"I want to make people cry even when they don't understand my words."
"Don't care what people say. Don't give a damn about their laws. All I've done all my life is disobey."
"Singing is a way of escaping. It's another world. I'm no longer on earth."
One hundred years ago, a legend was born - Edith Piaf, The Little Sparrow", chansonnière, the ultimate symbol of Paris, a Gallic Patron Saint.
It is inestimable the influence this little lady had upon the French capital under Nazi occupation, at its liberation and ever afterwards - such remarkable stars as Marianne Faithfull, Nico, Serge Gainsbourg, Mireille Mathieu, Marc Almond, the Wainwrights (Martha and Rufus), Madeleine Peyroux, David Bowie and Linda Ronstadt have all cited her as an icon. Suffice to say, she is adored here at Dolores Delargo Towers, not least for these timeless gems:
Non, je ne regrette rien:
La vie en rose:
- As a child born of Moroccan-Italian-French burlesque-performing parents, she was abandoned by her mother and raised in a brothel run by her grandmother.
- She often sang in brothels, bars and clubs in her local Belleville dialect; the Parisian equivalent of London's Cockney.
- She rose to fame from the backstreets of the Pigalle to appearances on the Champs-Élysées, to a recording career and sell-out concerts at the Paris Olympia with the help and support of friends such as Jean Cocteau and Maurice Chevalier and, it is rumoured, the Mafia.
- She helped launch the career of Charles Aznavour, and had affairs with Yves Montand and world champion boxer Marcel Cerdan (who was killed in an air crash).
- Matron-of-honour at her first wedding was none other than Marlene Dietrich; her second husband was a Greek hairdresser twenty years her junior.
- By the end of WW2 she was the most popular entertainer in France, and eventually conquered the whole of Europe and the Americas - Mlle Piaf played Carnegie Hall twice, in 1956 and 1957.
- She sadly died aged only 47 (after years of alcohol and drug abuse); tens of thousands of mourners lined the streets of Paris for her cortège (it is said that the traffic stopped in the city of Paris for only the first time since the war), and the ceremony at the cemetery was attended by more than 100,000 fans.
Édith Piaf (born Édith Giovanna Gassion, 19th December 1915 – 11th October 1963)