Edith Piaf

Edith Piaf

Real Name:
Édith Giovanna Gassion
Profile:
French singer and cultural icon.

Born: 19 December 1915 in Paris, France.
Died: 11 October 1963 in Plascassier, France.

Best known for singing songs "La Vie En Rose", composed by Louiguy, with lyrics by Piaf, and English lyrics adapted by Mack David; and "Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien" written by Michel Vaucaire, which rather fittingly she sung just two years before the end of her eventful life.

In 1935 Piaf was discovered in the Pigalle area of Paris by nightclub owner Louis Leplée, whose club Le Gerny off the Champs-Élysées was frequented by the upper and lower classes alike. He persuaded her to sing despite her extreme nervousness, which, combined with her height of only 142 centimetres (4 ft 8 in), inspired him to give her the nickname that would stay with her for the rest of her life and serve as her stage name, La Môme Piaf (Parigot translatable as "The Waif Sparrow", "The Little Sparrow", or "Kid Sparrow"). Leplée taught her the basics of stage presence and told her to wear a black dress, later to become her trademark apparel. Leplée ran an intense publicity campaign leading up to her opening night, attracting the presence of many celebrities, including actor Maurice Chevalier. Her nightclub gigs led to her first two records produced that same year, with one of them penned by Marguerite Monnot, a collaborator throughout Piaf's life.

On 6 April 1936, Leplée was murdered and Piaf was questioned and accused as an accessory, but was acquitted. Leplée had been killed by mobsters with previous ties to Piaf. A barrage of negative media attention now threatened her career. To rehabilitate her image, she recruited Raymond Asso, with whom she would become romantically involved. He changed her stage name to "Édith Piaf", barred undesirable acquaintances from seeing her, and commissioned Monnot to write songs that reflected or alluded to Piaf's previous life on the streets.

In 1940, Édith co-starred in Jean Cocteau's successful one-act play Le Bel Indifférent. She began forming friendships with prominent people, including Chevalier and poet Jacques Borgeat. She wrote the lyrics of many of her songs and collaborated with composers on the tunes. In 1944, she discovered Yves Montand in Paris, made him part of her act, and became his mentor and lover. Within a year, he became one of the most famous singers in France, and she broke off their relationship when he had become almost as popular as she was.

During this time she was in great demand and very successful in Paris as France's most popular entertainer. After the war, she became known internationally, touring Europe, the United States, and South America. In Paris, she gave Atahualpa Yupanqui (Héctor Roberto Chavero)—the most important Argentine musician of folklore—the opportunity to share the scene, making his debut in July 1950. She helped launch the career of Charles Aznavour in the early 1950s, taking him on tour with her in France and the United States and recording some of his songs. At first she met with little success with U.S. audiences, who regarded her as downcast. After a glowing review by a prominent New York critic, however, her popularity grew, to the point where she eventually appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show eight times and at Carnegie Hall twice (1956 and 1957).

Édith Piaf's signature song "La vie en rose" was written in 1945 and was voted a Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1998.

Bruno Coquatrix's famous Paris Olympia music hall is where Piaf achieved lasting fame, giving several series of concerts at the hall, the most famous venue in Paris, between January 1955 and October 1962. Excerpts from five of these concerts (1955, 1956, 1958, 1961, 1962) were issued on record and CD and have never been out of print. The 1961 concerts were promised by Piaf in an effort to save the venue from bankruptcy and where she debuted her song "Non, je ne regrette rien". In April 1963, Piaf recorded her last song, "L'homme de Berlin".

She was married to Jacques Pills between 1952 and 1956, and to Théo Sarapo from 1962 until her death in 1963.
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Edith Piaf Discography

Albums

Edith Piaf Edith Piaf Sings Polydor US 1949 Sell This Version
Édith Piaf* Chansons Parisiennes (Album) Columbia US 1949 Sell This Version
Edith Piaf Encore Parisiennes (Album, EP) Columbia US 1950 Sell This Version
Edith Piaf Favorites (Album) VOX (6), Polydor US 1950 Sell This Version
DL 6004 Edith Piaf Chansons Des Cafés De Paris(10", Album) Decca DL 6004 US 1950 Sell This Version
FL 9510 Edith Piaf Edith Piaf Sings(10", Mono) Columbia FL 9510 US 1950 Sell This Version
Edith Piaf Édith Piaf Sings Again Columbia US 1951 Sell This Version
Édith Piaf* Encores (Album) Columbia Masterworks US 1951 Sell This Version
FL 9535 Édith Piaf* Hits From "La P'tite Lili"(LP, Album) Columbia FL 9535 US 1951 Sell This Version
Edith Piaf La Vie En Rose Columbia France 1953 Sell This Version
ANG 64005 Edith Piaf Edith Piaf Sings Bravo Pour Le Clown(10", Album) Angel Records ANG 64005 US 1954 Sell This Version
FS 1021 Edith Piaf Le Bel Indifférent(10", Album, Mono) Columbia FS 1021 France 1954 Sell This Version
Edith Piaf Piaf Of Paris (Album) Angel Records, Angel Records US 1955 Sell This Version
Edith Piaf Édith Piaf à L'Olympia (Album) Columbia France 1955 Sell This Version
Edith Piaf Recital Nº 1 (Album) Polydor France 1955 Sell This Version
ANG 65024 Edith Piaf Piaf Tonight(LP) Angel Records ANG 65024 US 1955 Sell This Version
530 027 Edith Piaf Chante Raymond Asso(10", Album, Mono) Polydor 530 027 France 1955 Sell This Version
Édith Piaf* La Vie En Rose / Édith Piaf Sings In English (Album) Columbia US 1956 Sell This Version
FS 1065 Edith Piaf Le Tour De Chant D'Edith Piaf No. 2: Live A L'Olympia(10", Album) Columbia FS 1065 France 1956 Sell This Version
Edith Piaf Édith Piaf (Album) Columbia Masterworks Canada 1958 Sell This Version
FS 1083 Edith Piaf Edith Piaf(10", Mono) Columbia FS 1083 France 1958 Sell This Version
FS 1075 Edith Piaf A L'Olympia - N° 3(LP) Columbia FS 1075 France 1958 Sell This Version
Edith Piaf Hommage À Piaf Columbia UK 1959 Sell This Version
Edith Piaf With The Orchestra Of Robert Chauvigny* Edith Piaf With The Orchestra Of Robert Chauvigny* - Piaf! (Album) Capitol Records, Capitol Records US 1959 Sell This Version
PAM 67.010 Edith Piaf Le Ballet Des Coeurs(LP) Pathé PAM 67.010 Canada 1959 Sell This Version