Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Hot News - French singer Henri Salvador dies aged 90

Overview of Henri Salvador

Henri Salvador (born July 18, 1917, death February 13, 2008) was a French singer. His father, Clovis, and his mother, Antonine Paterne, daughter of a native Indian from the Caribbean, were both from Guadeloupe, France.

Born in Cayenne, French Guiana, his musical career began as a guitarist accompanying other singers. He had learned the guitar by imitating Django Reinhardt's recordings, and was to work alongside him in the 1940s.

Salvador recorded several songs written by Boris Vian with Quincy Jones as arranger. He is known to have recorded the first French Rock'n Roll in 1956 written by Boris Vian and Michel Legrand.

In the sixties Salvador was the host of several popular television variety shows on French TV.

In 1964 he scored a hit with "Zorro est arrivé" (which was inspired by The Coasters' U.S. hit "Along Came Jones"). He is also famous for his rich, catchy laugh, which is a subject in many of his humorous songs.

In 1969, Henri Salvador recorded a variation of "Mah Nà Mah Nà" titled "Mais Non, Mais Non" ("But No, But No" or "Of Course Not, Of Course Not"), with lyrics he had written in French to Piero Umiliani tune.

Henri Salvador and his song "Dans mon île" (1957) was an influence on Antônio Carlos Jobim in formulating the Brazilian Bossa Nova style.[citation needed]

Caetano Veloso, a famous Brazilian composer and singer, made Henri Salvador famous to Brazilian audiences with the song "Reconvexo", in which he says "quem não sentiu o swing de Henri Salvador?" ('who hasn't felt the swing of Henri Salvador?')

He had a brother, André, and a sister, Alice. He became a musician and comedian. Later he discovered singers Keren Ann and Art Mengo.

Henri continues to be popular today among French communities in Canada. In 2000, Virgin Records released a CD featuring popular hits like "Jazz Mediterrannee" which continues to receive regular air play. In 2002 his album 'Chambre Avec Vue' sold over two million copies. In 2005, Henri Salvador was awarded the Brazilian Order of Cultural Merit, which he received from the acclaimed singer and Minister of Culture, Gilberto Gil, in the presence of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva for his influence on Brazilian culture, particularly on bossa nova, to whose invention he contributed. He was also a commander of the French Légion d'honneur and of the National Order of Merit. In 2007 he released "Reverence" on V2 Records which features Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso. He then went on to perform the track "La Vie C'est La Vie" from the album "Reverence" on the BBC programme "Later... With Jools Holland," which aired on 4th May 2007. He died in the early morning on February 13, 2008.

French singer Henri Salvador dies aged 90

French crooner Henri Salvador, who first went on stage in the cabarets of pre-war Paris and played guitar with Django Reinhardt, died in Paris on Wednesday aged 90, his record company said.

An all-round entertainer with an infectious laugh, Salvador helped introduce France to rock'n'roll, inspired the invention of bossa nova in Brazil and was a pioneer of the music video.

Spry as a bird, Salvador was performing on stage right up until the end of last year. He died at his Paris home of a brain haemorrhage, according to Polydor records.

President Nicolas Sarkozy, who flew back Tuesday from Salvador's native French Guiana, paid tribute to a departed "friend".

"Upon my return from Guiana, I learned with infinite sadness of the death of one of its most eminent children, my friend Henri Salvador."

"His tunes and inimitable velvet voice will stay with us for a long time," Sarkozy said in a statement, describing him as a much-loved "icon" for young French singers.

Born in 1917, Salvador spent 73 years pleasing the public with his mix of hoofing, goofing and chanson -- inspired at an early age by jazz legends Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington.

"Sometimes I say to myself -- 'Bloody hell, you're nearly 90!' Luckily my wife is on hand to remind me that I've never looked my age, " he told AFP with a cackle in an interview last year, as he prepared for his farewell tour.

"It's like a drug. I remember one of the first times I went on a really big stage was in Brazil in the war, when I had to perform before tens of thousands of American soldiers.

"I did my first gag, and suddenly there was this roar coming from the audience. It hit me like a wave of pleasure, and I remember thinking, so that's what its like, " he said.

Salvador's love-affair with the audience began in 1933 when as a young musician-cum-funnyman he got his first slots on the Paris nightclub scene.

He was spotted at the age of 16 by jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt who took him on as an accompanist, and he then joined the black American jazz violinist Eddie South.

In World War II, Salvador found himself on the French Riviera where he was recruited by band-leader Ray Ventura. Ventura was Jewish and Salvador was black so their decision to leave Vichy France, the wartime regime that collaborated with the Nazis, was opportune.

Later Salvador established himself in Paris as a songwriter and performer, and in 1956 crossed the Atlantic for a song'n'dance engagement on the Ed Sullivan show, the hugely popular US TV variety series.

Inspired by the new sounds sweeping the United States, he teamed up with French cult writer Boris Vian to make some of France's first rock'n'roll hits.

Around this time his song "Dans mon Ile" (In my island) inspired the Brazilian musician Tom Jobin, regarded as the inventor of bossa nova. Jobin later told Salvador that hearing the song gave him the idea of slowing down the samba beat and introducing more melody.

In the 1960s Salvador had a series of novelty hits such as "Juanita Banana," "Twist SNCF" and "Minnie Petite Souris" (Minnie the little mouse), all of them accompanied by humorous film-clips that were the precursor of today's music videos -- and are now easy to view on the Internet.

Since then he was never far from the public eye, with television variety shows, concerts and new albums -- of which the latest, "Reverence" (Final Bow), came out in 2006.

Salvador said he put his longevity down to an innately sunny temperament. "When you are a little baby, everything is beautiful. Luckily with me that never changed."

"Maurice Chevalier died at 84, Charles Trenet died at 86," he said in reference to two other great French crooners. "Here am I still at it, at nearly 90. So maybe it's time to stop. I won't miss it. I love my bed too much."

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