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22 July 2010

On this day in history: French singer Sacha Distel died, 2004

Born Sacha Alexandre in Paris on 29th January 1933, Sacha Distel went on to become a popular singer around the world. The nephew of the bandleader Ray Ventura, Sacha started his musical career at the age of 16 as a jazz guitarist. By the mid-1950s he had become one of the hottest jazz guitarists in France, voted best guitarist in the French Jazz Hot magazine in 1956 and again for the next seven years. Nevertheless, he realised that he would not achieve fame unless he started to sing.

He made his début as a singer in 1958 at a casino in Algiers. He achieved wider attention with his version of 'Scoubidou (des pommes, des poires)' released in 1959. A year later he starred in his first feature film Les Mordus, but it was as a crooner that he established his fame. By the end of the decade he was appearing on television shows in the United States and Britain, largely due to the popularity of his version of 'Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head'.

The 1970s were Sacha's heyday as an international star; he spent more time in Britain than in his native land. His celebrity status across the Channel was marked by his 1980 performance Queen Mother's 80th birthday at Buckingham Palace. In the 1980s his fame declined around the world; yet, he remained popular in France.

Sacha returned to London to appear in the musical Chicago, but three years later, on 22nd July 2004, Sacha Distel died of cancer aged 71 at Rayol-Canadel in the south-east of France.

If you understand French you can read a detailed biography of Sacha Distel on his official page.

Sacha Distel performing 'Le Soleil de ma vie' ('The Sunshine of My Life')
with his one-time paramour Brigitte Bardot

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