My mother loved Charles Aznavour. She had a soft spot for small men with big voices and a story to sing. The French-Armenian crooner did it with heart and soul.

When I saw him on TV last Friday night – 94 years of age and promoting his next concert tour – I thought: Wow. Imagine seeing him live in concert? So the next morning I went online and booked tickets for a concert to take place in Zurich just a few days before Christmas.

But then a strange thing happened. I realized once the credit card information had been entered, and the fees doubled the face value of the tickets, that I’d been had. Fooled by a very slick website that is nothing more than legalized scalpers. By then it was too late to get out of the transaction. So I spent quite a bit of time over the weekend (closing the barn door after the horse has bolted) researching a company called Viagogo.

Turns out I should have done that first (Yes, I found myself thinking, but hey, this guy is old. Surely I could be forgiven for wanting to hurry up and book while he was still around?). It seems that Viagogo is in legally murky waters all over the world as various governments from France to Australia have asked them to make their transactions more transparent (I’m not the only one who was fooled into paying twice the price). Ed Sheeran ran afoul of them when his promoter refused to honour concert tickets sold through Viagogo.

What made matters worse was that I then discovered the concert date in Zurich had already been cancelled. I contacted the promoters, the venue, various ticket sellers and read several articles online: they all seemed to agree that the date was cancelled. So why was Viagogo still selling tickets? When I contacted them, the company claimed the concert date was still valid. In the meantime, I lodged a complaint with Google over its misleading ad.

All of this became nothing more than a sad joke when the news came on Monday afternoon that Charles Aznavour had passed away. I could hardly believe it, texting my husband, who, with typical dark humour replied that at least we could now be sure the concert was cancelled.

Sudden death from a heart attack at 94 can hardly be considered surprising. And yet…he struck me as someone who was not done with life. He had even pledged to celebrate his 100th birthday on stage. During his final appearance on the talk show C à vous, Aznavour talked about his need to perform. On stage, he said, was where he felt most alive.

The stage had been Aznavour’s home ever since he first came to fame in 1946. A protegé of Edith Piaf, Charles Aznavour had a special talent for bringing stories to life in song, that very particular sung-spoken style of la chanson française.

But he wasn’t just a consummate performer. He was also a talented songwriter who wrote or contributed to over 1,000 songs. I was amazed to discover that he wrote the song, ‘Yesterday when I was young’, Hier Encore in French.

Funnily enough, he said that his favourite song was La Boheme, one of the few whose music he did not compose.

Such talent. So many memories. It has been an emotional ride.

This one’s for you, Mom. Et pour toi, Nicole!


  1. davidprosser · October 4, 2018

    I do hope you’re able to get your money back now Mel
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

    • MELewis · October 4, 2018

      Thanks, David! Yes, it should be coming through in a few days since they finally acknowledged that the concert was cancelled two days after poor Charles passed… And to my relief, they will reimburse the entire amount including fees. 🙏🏻 Which enables me to fondly remember the wonderful musical legacy of this talented man with no regrets. Merci beaucoup! xx

      • Garfield Hug · October 4, 2018

        I am glad you will get your money back. I guess we have to be wary of internet bookings.

      • MELewis · October 5, 2018

        If you book with a reputable agency online, there is no problem at all. I have done it many times in France and Switzerland. The problem is Google — they get a lot of money from advertisers to put their ads and links on top of the pile, so you think they are legit. I should have done my homework!

      • Garfield Hug · October 5, 2018

        Thanks for sharing. I would have thought Google was reputable till you shared. This teaches us all to be alert for scammers. Have a good Friday🍻

      • MELewis · October 6, 2018

        Cheers! Bon weekend to you.

  2. acflory · October 4, 2018

    I knew of Charles Aznavour but never really listened to his music. I wish I had now. La Boheme is wonderful. Thanks so much for the music. It will live on.

    • MELewis · October 4, 2018

      They are all amazing! I feel like I’m just discovering him now that I watch the old clips. Glad you enjoyed, Meeks!

      • acflory · October 5, 2018

        I fell in love with PIaf back in 1974 and I can see her style in /him/. It’s wonderful and just a little bit eerie. Loved it. 🙂

  3. Taste of France · October 4, 2018

    I was surprised at how many of the standards were by him. I hadn’t realized it, since I tend to hear the songs being played here or there, not on TV where you see the performer.
    Keep us posted about your reimbursement. I hadn’t heard of this outfit.

  4. phildange · October 4, 2018

    Thank you for this hommage . My favourite songs from him are “Mes amis, mes amours, mes emmerdes” : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8LkYcVckfS4 .
    and the one you used as your title, “Emmenez moi” : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0j3Ve05TqQ

    • MELewis · October 4, 2018

      Thanks, Phil, I had heard of the first one but not really listened to it. Interesting lyrics. When I saw Aznavour interviewed he came across as incredibly humble despite his impressive body of work. He will surely be missed!

  5. Kiki · October 4, 2018

    I too always was kind of smitten with Aznavour. I think I liked that he was smallish and goodlooking AND had this wonderful voice. Sad that you got tricked with those tickets…. quelle saloperie!

    • MELewis · October 5, 2018

      That’s funny as I only now realized how attractive he was back then — I had gotten used to seeing the older man, who was dapper and funny but not as attractive as when he was young. As for the tickets it seems that scheisters are everywhere!

      • Kiki · October 5, 2018

        I never knew him as a young person either…. But some people have that ‘certain something’ and he had it in spades. He was sparkling from the inside, his eyes were telling stories…

  6. TheTaskGirl · October 5, 2018

    Oh my gosh! I didn’t even know he died 😭 La Boheme was my favorite too, I sing it (poorly) all the time. So glad it looks like you’ll at least get your money back.

    • MELewis · October 5, 2018

      Thank you! Sorry to be the bearer of sad tidings. It is all over the news this week in France. He will be buried in state tomorrow. 😢

      • TheTaskGirl · October 5, 2018

        He was such a sweet little man. I love that he tried to learn as many languages as he could, so that everybody could enjoy his music! It’s one of the things that got me interested in trying to learn other languages; right now I’m focusing on Korean. (I now know exactly enough to deeply confuse myself and everyone around me 😆.) He leaves behind a lovely world that he contributed to. 😊

      • MELewis · October 6, 2018

        Korean, wow! 😲 That is ambitious… At the funeral yesterday, Macron paid tribute to the fact that Aznavour’s body of work personified bringing people together across languages and cultures. Very moving.

      • TheTaskGirl · October 6, 2018

        😢😊 I played his music all day yesterday.

  7. poshbirdy · October 8, 2018

    Oh dear, I had no idea he had died. Aznavour was such an icon and a thoroughly lovely man. I heard him interviewed on a British radio show earlier this year and it prompted me to buy a CD with all my favourites on it. His voice and his songs will last forever

    • MELewis · October 11, 2018

      Sorry you had to learn it here. I’m glad you have good memories of the man and his music though. He will certainly live on in our hearts!

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