Fran­cis Lai, the com­poser be­hind mem­o­rable songs and film scores for dozens of French artists, has died aged 86, the mayor of his Mediter­ranean home­town of Nice said Thurs­day.

The Korea Times - - FRONT PAGE -

PARIS (AFP) — Fran­cis Lai, the com­poser be­hind mem­o­rable songs and film scores for dozens of French artists, has died aged 86, the mayor of his Mediter­ranean home­town of Nice said Thurs­day.

Be­sides writ­ing mu­sic for stars like Edith Piaf and Juli­ette Greco, Lai was per­haps best known for cre­at­ing the ti­tle track to the 1970 box-of­fice hit “Love Story.”

“With just a few notes, Fran­cis Lai had the gift of ren­der­ing grand films even more beau­ti­ful, even more mov­ing,” Cul­ture Min­is­ter Franck Ri­ester said on Twit­ter.

“Now that he leaves us, his im­mor­tal scores res­onate in our hearts,” he said.

Born into a fam­ily of gar­den­ers in Nice in 1932, Lai taught him­self mu­sic and be­gan his ca­reer as an ac­cor­dion­ist for the poet and singer Bernard Dimey, with whom he started writ­ing songs.

French stars Johnny Hal­ly­day and Dal­ida, as well as Amer­i­can jazz singer Ella Fitzger­ald per­formed his works, and Lai also wrote Piaf’s first song, “Le Droit d’Aimer” (The Right to Love).

He also came up with Yves Mon­tand’s hit “A Bi­cy­clette” (By Bike).

But it was his work for Claude Lelouche which would change the arc of his ca­reer, be­com­ing the mu­si­cal mind be­hind some of the French di­rec­tor’s most en­dur­ing works.

The two met through their mu­tual friend Pierre Barouh, who wrote the lyrics for one of Lai’s wildly suc­cess­ful “Dabad­abada,” the melody which marks Lelouche’s 1966 clas­sic “A Man and a Woman.”

Orig­i­nally sung by Nicole Croisille, more than 200 ver­sions have since been recorded in France and be­yond.

“Ba-da-ba-da-ba-da, it’s just a jazz ref­er­ence. We were all wild about jazz and this ba-da-ba-da-ba, this bit of ono­matopoeia, was a way of draw­ing out the verse,” Lai told AFP af­ter Barouh’s death in 2017.

For “Love Story” he would win an Os­car with the theme “Where Do I Be­gin”, sung by Andy Wil­liams and Shirley Bassey.

Over­all he would write more than 100 film scores and 600 songs, most re­cently work­ing on the mu­sic for a se­quel to “A Man and a Woman.”

Fran­cis Lai

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