Françoise Hardy, French pop icon and singer, dies at 80

She was the only French representative in Rolling Stone's ranking of the 200 greatest singers of all time in 2023.

Françoise Hardy, an icon of French music, died at the age of 80, her son Thomas Dutronc announced this Tuesday night on his social networks.

The artist, whose biggest hit was "Tous les garçons et les filles," was the only French representative in the American magazine Rolling Stone's ranking of the 200 best singers of all time in 2023. She was first diagnosed with cancer in 2004.

"Tous les garçons et les filles" is a song that she performed when she was barely 18 years old (1962).

The enormous impact of that song on an entire generation of young French people could classify her as a yeyé idol, but Hardy also knew how to cultivate other musical fields without losing popularity.

Born in 1944 in a working-class neighborhood of Paris, Hardy was the daughter of a single mother. Hardy got her first guitar at 16 and later studied at a small music conservatory.

She got herself noticed in the bustling Parisian musical world of the early 1960s, during which rising stars like Johnny Halliday (a neighborhood resident) were plotting destiny in the shadow of Anglo-Saxon rock and roll.

In 1964, she performed "Mon amie la rose," which was another great success. "Comment te dire adieu," by Serge Gainsbourg, came out in 1968.

Françoise Hardy was also a fashion icon. Her androgynous physique set her apart from more shapely stars like Brigitte Bardot as a harbinger of the slenderness that would soon flood the catwalks of the entire world.

She had long hair and bangs and perfectly wore the futuristic metallic dresses by couturier Paco Rabanne.

She became a model for magazines such as Paris Match, and the famous American photographer William Klein immortalized her in black and white.

"Singing is not something natural"

"When Mick Jagger said that I represented his feminine ideal, oh, là, là... This phrase ended my image of a naive young woman with an unattractive physique," she once commented.

"Singing was not something natural for me," she admitted years later.

Her great love story was named Jacques Dutronc, another of the stars of that rebellious generation. Together, they had their son Thomas, who also became a singer.

However, the love story ended when Dutronc was unfaithful (with actress Romy Schneider, among others). The couple ended up separating but continued living in the same building.

That bittersweet experience permeated all of her work and she composed, among others, the song "Message personnel" in 1973, which was a great success.

Like other French stars, Hardy took advantage of her international popularity to dare to perform in other languages. In 1970, she released two songs in Spanish: "El Telefono Corté" and "Sol."

The following year, she released the album "La question," in collaboration with the Brazilian guitarist Tuca.

"All my life I looked for beautiful melodies. Listening to them takes me to ecstasy," Hardy explained in an interview with AFP in 2018.

"The most beautiful melodic songs are always melancholic or romantic," she added.

Her tortuous relationship with Dutronc became official in 1981 when they married. They eventually broke up again years later.

She ended her musical career in 1988, although she returned in the 2000s and was supported by stars of her generation.

An astrology fan, she was first diagnosed with cancer in 2004. Although she was cured, she later suffered other types of cancer in the following years.

"Death only affects the body. When you die, the body releases the soul. But in any case, the death of the body is a considerable test, and I am afraid of it, like everyone else," she confessed to AFP in 2018.