Claude Antoine Marie François (February 1, 1939 – March 11, 1978) was a French Singer-Songwriter, composer, music producer, drummer and dancer.
Born in Ismailia, Egypt to a French father and an Italian mother, he grew up there until his family was expelled in 1956 due to the Suez War and moved to France. He is a strong contender for most iconic French singer of The '60s and The '70s (the craze he generated nationwide has been compared to that of the Beatlemania for the UK and Elvis Presley for the US), and he certainly was the leading figure during the heyday of French Disco. His first hit was the song "Belles, belles, belles" in 1962.
He co-wrote the lyrics and/or composed the music of a number of songs that wound up being Covered Up in the USA, including "Comme d'habitude" (composed by Jacques Revaux and himself), which is none other than the original version of "My Way" by Frank Sinatra, and "Parce que je t'aime mon enfant", the original version of "My Boy" by Elvis Presley.
Also among his other famous hit songs, which are major staples of retro nightclubbing and wedding parties in France still to this day, are "Le Téléphone Pleure", "Le lundi au soleil", "Magnolias for Ever", "Alexandrie Alexandra" and "Cette année là".
He was planning to export himself to the USA in 1978 after meeting with Motown's Lamont Dozier, but that wasn't to be. On March 11 of that year, while taking a bath, he noticed that a light fixture was not straight on the wall, tried to straighten it (while being wet) and died of electrocution at age 39.
Tropes & Trivia about his career:
- '60s Hair: Even well into The '70s, he kept his signature wavy blond bowl cut with a middle parting, though they got longer over time.
- Breakthrough Hit: 1962's "Belles, belles, belles" was his first hit song and made him "The Idol of the Youth" in France.
- Break-Up Song:
- "Comme d'habitude" ("As usual") was inspired by Claude's breakup with fellow French singer France Gall.
- "Reste" ("Stay") is about a man wanting the woman of his life to stay by his side.
- Chorus Girls: Inspired by shows he saw in Las Vegas, Claude François surrounded himself with four, then five, then six female dancers (most often for fanservice considering their outfits) when performing for television and concerts. The roster often changed as there were 30 of them in total, and they were nicknamed "Claudettes".
- Disco: The music genre that cemented him as an icon in The '70s.
- Everything's Better with Sparkles: He often performed with glittery suits.
- One-Woman Song: "Bélinda".
- The Place: The song "Alexandrie, Alexandra", referring to the city of Alexandria in Egypt (he grew up in the country until 1956).
- Silly Love Songs: "Belles, belles, belles" and quite a few ones that came after it are quite cheesy (but still beloved) love songs.