The Sunday Edition

Charles Aznavour on the perils of fame, learning from Piaf, and loving Montreal

The French singer and songwriter Charles Aznavour died this week at the age of 94. We re-broadcast a 1974 interview Aznavour did with starstruck, very young host called Michael Enright.
In this Aug.24, 2017 file photo, singer and songwriter Charles Aznavour appears at a ceremony honoring him with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles. Charles Aznavour, the French crooner and actor whose performing career spanned eight decades, has died. He was 94. (Damian Dovarganes/Associated Press)

Beloved French singer Charles Aznavour died on Oct. 1, after a heart attack. He was 94. 

His career spanned 8 decades. He recorded over 1400 songs, sold a hundred million records, acted in over 60 movies and had a successful television career. In 1998, CNN named him entertainer of the century, beating out the likes of Elvis and Bob Dylan. 

His music matured with the years, and he continued to perform until the end of his life.

Aznavour was born in Paris on May 22nd, 1924. His Armenian parents had fled their country after the genocide.

He acted and sang his way to the top, performing in cabarets during the Second World War, while his parents made their apartment a safe house to hide Jews and members of the resistance from the Nazis.

Michael in this undated photograph, close the age he was when he interviewed Charles Aznavour in 1974. (CBC)
Aznavour always remembered his parents' compassion for strangers; he remained involved in various charities throughout his life. 

French cultural icon Edith Piaf became his adviser. He wrote songs for her, and opened for Piaf at the Moulin Rouge. Many years later, Aznavour passed what he had learned from Piaf along to another young performer — Liza Minnelli. 

 Aznavour lived in Quebec for two years, from 1948 to 1950. In 2008, he was named an honorary officer of the Order of Canada.

In 1974, when Aznavour was back in Canada, he came to the CBC studios in Toronto for an interview on the radio program "This Country in the Morning." Michael Enright was the host of the program, and he was delighted to talk to a man whose music had touched his life.

Click 'listen' above to hear Michael's conversation with Charles Aznavour.