Iconic French singer Françoise Hardy dies aged 80

PARIS — One of France’s best-loved singer-songwriters, Françoise Hardy, has died at the age of 80.

“Mum is gone,” her son, Thomas Dutronc, who is also a musician, wrote on social media.

Hardy burst on to the music scene in 1962 and became a cultural icon who inspired the likes of Mick Jagger and Bob Dylan. Known for her melancholy ballads, she symbolized France’s Yé-yé (yeah yeah) pop movement, so-called because of its nod to English music.

Her most famous songs included All the Girls and Boys (Tous les garçons et les filles), It Hurts to Say Goodbye (Comment te dire adieu) and My Friend the Rose (Mon amie la rose).

Her biggest UK hit was All Over The World, an English-language version of her song Dans le monde entier, which reached number 16 in the charts in June 1965.

Hardy was born in Nazi-occupied Paris in 1944 and raised by her mother.

Like many girls at the time, she grew up listening to Elvis Presley, Cliff Richard and other American and British stars on Radio Luxembourg and she signed her first record deal at just 17.

Her breakout as a musician came in 1962 with the simple, plaintive song, Tous les garçons et les filles, when she sang of all the boys and girls walking hand in hand, while “I walk alone through the streets, my heart aching”. It was an instant hit in France and even broke through in the UK charts.

Her style captivated fashion designers, becoming a model for the likes of Yves Saint Laurent and Paco Rabanne, who designed a minidress out of gold plates for her.

Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger once famously called her the “ideal woman”, while fellow singer-songwriter Bob Dylan penned several love letters to her.

He addressed her in a poem on the back of his 1964 album Another Side of Bob Dylan.

One of her most memorable performances came in 1968 with Comment te dire adieu, a French adaptation by Serge Gainsbourg of a song originally in English. But the Gainsbourg song has since been covered many times, with its painful goodbye to a man with a “heart of pyrex”.

She collaborated with a number of artists, including Blur and Iggy Pop.

Hardy was also an actor — appearing in films by directors including Jean-Luc Godard, Roger Vadim and John Frankenheimer — as well as a writer of fiction and non-fiction.

Among the topics she wrote about was astrology, which she developed a love for during the 1970s.

She was married once, to the singer Jacques Dutronc, with whom she had her son Thomas. They separated in the late 1980s, but she would often refer to her ex-husband as the love of her life.

Hardy had been ill for some time before her death, revealing in 2004 that she had been diagnosed with lymphoma.

In 2015, she was placed in an induced coma for weeks following a fall and in 2021, she said she had cancer in one of her ears and felt “close to the end” of her life.

Her career spanned more than five decades, during which she released nearly 30 albums. Hardy’s last album, Personne D’Autre (Nobody Else), was released in 2018.

Rolling Stone ranked her at number 162 on its list of the 200 Greatest Singers of All Time in 2023.

Among those to pay tribute to Hardy following news of her death was France’s Culture Minister, Rachida Dati, who wrote on social media: “How to say goodbye to her? Eternal Françoise Hardy, legend of French song, who entered, through her sensitivity and her melodies, into the heart of an entire country.” — BBC

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