Françoise Hardy dies at 80, victim of a terminal illness and after requesting euthanasia

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“Mom is gone.” (Mom is gone), says the simple but beautiful farewell. Within a few seconds, Carla Bruni He answers: “I have thought a lot about you, Thomas, peace to your delicate soul.” Other condolences have arrived throughout the night.

The picture of Francoise Hardy It is the lullaby of their music in your head: All the boys and girls It was one of his unforgettable successes. She was the first French pop singer to become known outside the borders of her country and one of the greatest representatives of the ‘yé-yé wave; the only representative of France in the American magazine Rolling Stone’s classification of the 200 best singers of all time in 2023. Diagnosed with her first cancer in 2004 and, victim of a terminal illness and great suffering, last January she claimed to the president Emmanuel Macron the streamlining of the procedures necessary for France to legalize euthanasia.

Françoise Hardy was very young when she heard an instrumental version of the American song ‘It Hurts to Say Goodbye’ and fell in love with the melody. The great composer Serge Gainsbourgh provided it with lyrics and thus an overwhelming pop hit was born that was called in French “Comment te dire adieu.” Very quickly the world fell in love with that shy girl, a student of Germanic literature who composed, played the guitar and sang in Paris clubs.

Françoise Madeleine Hardy He had signed with the Disques Vogue label in 1961 and his song ‘Tous les garçons et les filles’ was released in a musical interlude during the night of October 28 of the following year, when he was barely 18 years old, while the results of a national referendum.

That story about a teenager who regretted not knowing the pleasures of love became an old hit, the kind that translated into millions of ‘singles’ sold, and came to be considered the quintessence of the yé-yé style. The following year she represented Monaco with ‘L’amor s’en va’, a title that also exemplified that characteristic melancholic tone. She didn’t win, but again, she provided another classic. In just a few years, the young woman was one of the French singers with the greatest worldwide projection.

A myth was born, but his identity came later, when he met the photographer Jean Marie Perier, a sort of Pygmalion that turned her into the archetype of the young Parisian woman, urban and determined, with her own style and very beautiful, somewhat distant and exquisitely pop. The triumphs followed one another and Hardy ascended to the French Olympus of music in which they would also reign. France Gall o Jane Birkin.

Françoise Hardy was also a fashion icon. Her androgynous physique and her discretion marked distances with exuberant stars like Brigitte Bardot. She perfectly wore the futuristic metallic dresses by the couturier Paco Rabanne and became a model for magazines such as ‘Paris Match’. The famous American photographer William Klein immortalized her in black and white. The French singer also jumped onto the big screen with films like ‘A Castle in Sweden’ or classic titles from the Hollywood industry like ‘How are you, Pussycat?’ or ‘Grand Prix’, among her most notable titles. Although they were only a few film appearances in a professional career clearly marked by music.

Model by Yves Saint Laurent

But the image generated by the world of entertainment and everyday life do not always go well together. Françoise Hardy was not just a girl who sang and acted as model of Yves Saint Laurent, André Courrèges or Paco Rabanne, she performed for Jean Luc Godard and John Frankenheimer, or seduced celebrities like Bob Dylan. His long hair and his innate “glamour” hid a complicated life that he recounted, in large part, in the autobiography ‘The Desperation of the Apes and Other Trifles’, published seven years ago.

The memoirs reveal someone with a painful past, who suffered from a certain imposter syndrome and stage fright, and who never endured the photographic siege to which she was subjected very well. Furthermore, the sophisticated young woman who rubbed shoulders with the jet-set and starred on the covers of ‘Paris Match’ or ‘Salut les copains’, France’s musical magazine par excellence, had suffered a Dickensian childhood.

Her appearance as a privileged young woman was deceptive. She was daughter of a single mother with limited means because his father, married to another woman, barely contributed anything to the family economy. She grew so self-conscious about his lanky physique that she was surprised when Mick Jagger revealed to her that she was his ideal woman. Love seemed to redeem her. After Périer, she fell in love with Jacques Dutronc, another of the stars of that rebellious generation (together they had her son Thomas, who would also become a singer). Like Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourgh, or Johnny Hallyday and Silvie Vartan, were iconic couples. They all broke up due to infidelity.

After the first phase of dazzling, Hardy established herself as a cult artist who has developed a respectable career for half a century. But the most terrible events have happened in her life. Surprisingly, her father died as a victim of the attack of a prostitute and Michele, her younger sister, affected by paranoid schizophrenia, was found dead in 2004, a terrible year for her because it was then that she was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer.

It seemed that life gave him a break and, after overcoming the illness, he returned to the stage. In 2018, he recorded ‘Nobody else’, her twenty-eighth album, and a video clip in which the Françoise of the sixties sang with the current septuagenarian, as beautiful as ever and with an appearance of mature serenity. But everything was going wrong. The illness had returned and two years earlier she had overcome a coma. The album exuded an air of farewell. She even confessed to AFP at the time that she was aware that her life was already languishing: “Death only affects the body. When we 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.

Tormented by suffering and radiotherapy sessions

The latest news spoke of a person tormented by suffering. Aggressive radiotherapy sessions and immunotherapy had caused very serious damage to his vocal cords, loss of vision in one eye, imbalance and distressing episodes of asphyxiation. She demanded a law of euthanasia, a procedure that, according to her she confessed, she applied with the help of a doctor to her mother, also a victim of an incurable disease.

Although practically no one assumed it at the time, Françoise Hardy had actually said goodbye to her audience twelve years ago. When she sang ‘Rendez-vous dans une autre vie’, she quotes in another life, with lyrics that were quite a declaration of intentions. The interpreter then recognized that it was the last act and she apologized if she left secretly, although she promised to meet again in another place to love more and better than today. We now know that she hadn’t really been sincere. Françoise Hardy always knew how to say goodbye, with sensitivity and exquisite elegance, very Parisian, as chic as ever.