Claude Nougaro, one of the biggest names in chanson française, died today (March 4) following a long battle with cancer. He was 74.
The Jazz-inspired Nougaro’s career began in 1958, when he first took the stage of Montmartre cabaret “Au Lapin Agile.”
He went on to record ’60s hits “Le Jazz et la Java” (Polygram) and “Armstrong” (EMI), a tribute to Louis Armstrong. In 1976, he recorded “Femmes et Famine,” his first album with French imprint Barclay; he went on to release “Tu Verras” — one of his greatest successes — two years later.
Barclay dropped Nougaro in the mid-’80s, citing insufficient sales. He promptly moved to New York and wrote “Nougayork” for WEA, an album which gathered an estimated 100,000 pre-orders and has sold 400,000 copies worldwide, according to the label.
In 1991, he returned to the company now known as Universal for “Une Voix Dix Doigts” (Philips). He released his last album “Embarquement Immédiat” in 2000 through EMI. A new album is set for an April release on Blue Note.
In a statement, French president Jacques Chirac describes Nougaro as “a master of French chanson” and a “truly great artist.”
A memorial service will take place at Paris cathedral Notre-Dame-de-Paris on Monday (March 8), according to his agent.