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Claude François , nicknamed Cloclo (Ismailia, Egypt, February 1, 1939 – Paris, March 11, 1978), was a pop singer and composer French very popular in the 60s and 70s.
He is remembered for songs like “Comme d’habitude” (from which Paul Anka would use the melody to write “My Way”), “Le Téléphone Pleure” (“Cry the Phone” in Spanish) and for many successes in French as “Le lundi au soleil”, “Magnolias for Ever”, “Alexandrie Alexandra”, among others.
François sold 70 million records and was about to embark on the United States to expand his musical career when he was accidentally electrocuted in the bathtub in March 1978 at 39.
Son of an Italian mother, Claude François was born in Egypt when his father, Aimé François, was working as an export traffic controller in the Suez Canal. In 1951 the work took them to the city of Port Tawfik in the Red Sea.
Claude’s mother loved music and had his son take piano and violin lessons, while he learned to play the drum on his own. As a result of the 1956 Suez crisis, the family returned to Monte Carlo when Claude’s father fell ill, preventing him from working. The young Claude found work as a teller in a bank and at night he earned extra money playing the drums with an orchestra in the luxurious hotels on the French Riviera. She had a good voice although not tested, but she was offered the opportunity to sing in a hotel in the trendy Mediterranean neighborhood of Juan-les-Pins. His show was well received by the audience and eventually began to perform in the glamorous night clubs of the French Riviera. While working in the clubs he met Janet Woolcoot, an English dancer with whom he married in 1960.
Ambitious, Claude François moved to Paris where he would find many more opportunities to expand his career. At the same time American rock and roll was gaining ground in France and joined a group to make a living. With the aim of eventually becoming a soloist he paid to record a 45rpm record. Trying to capitalize on the success of the American twist, Claude François recorded a song called “Nabout Twist” that turned out to be a failure. Without losing hope, in 1962 he recorded a cover version in French of an Everly Brothers song, “Made to Love”. Written by Phil Everly, it had been just a minor hit in the United States, but Claude François’ version entitled “Belles Belles Belles” climbed to the top of the French charts, selling more than two million copies and making him a star of the overnight.
Under a new manager, Claude François’s career continued to grow. He followed his first success with another adaptation to French of an American song. This time doing “If I Had a Hammer” by Trini López in French as “Si j’avais un marteau”. Taking advantage of her good looks, she imitated Elvis Presley’s stage style as well as her hairstyle. In 1967 he wrote with Jacques Revaux the song “Comme d’habitude”, with lyrics by Gilles Thibaut and Claude François himself. Keeping the melody, the lyrics were translated into English by Paul Anka, who titled the song as “My way”. Its first interpretation in English was realized by Frank Sinatra in the disc “My Way” in 1969, becoming one of the most representative subjects of Sinatra as well as in one of the most versioned songs of history.
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