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France/Music

Gentleman rocker Alain Bashung dies, aged 61

Article published on the 2009-03-15 Latest update 2009-03-20 16:44 TU

Alain Bashung(Photo: E Sadaka/RFI)

Alain Bashung
(Photo: E Sadaka/RFI)

French Prime Minister François Fillon paid tribute Sunday to "gentleman rocker" Alain Bashung, who died Saturday at the age of 61. Politicians, critics and fans paid tribute to an artiste who is a legend in his own country, despite being relatively unknown in the English-speaking world.

"A prince has left us," said a statement by President Nicolas Sarkozy, while the opposition Socialists, critics and fans joined in the tributes to a man who was popular as a performer and a person.

Bashung, who never knew his father, was raised by his grandmother in the eastern region of Alsace.

He started his musical career in 1966 but did not score a chart hit until 1980 with "Gaby, oh Gaby".

A year later he had a hit again with "Vertige de l'amour".

Like most French singers, he paid more attention to the words of his songs than many English-language performers but added blues and rock rythms. He recorded an album with arch-Bohemian Serge Gainsbourg and tributes today compared him to other music legends Jacques Brel, Georges Brassens and Léo Ferré.

At the end of last month he won three prizes at France's musical awards Les victoires de la musique. That was a record in the non-vinyl sense. Bashung won eleven awards at Les victoires, the most that any artiste has ever won.

His last album, "Bleu pétrole", which came out last year, sold 200,000 copies.

Club 9516 presenter David Page pays tribute to Alain Bashung: http://ntsw3siisprod:6128/actuen/articles/111/article_3225.asp

Visit Bashung's official site (in French): http://alainbashung.artistes.universalmusic.fr/

RFI's French service pays tribute to Bashung:

http://www.rfi.fr/actufr/articles/111/article_79235.asp