Os­car-win­ning com­poser dies at 86

Lai wrote mu­sic for Piaf, Mon­tand, Love Story


PARIS — French com­poser Fran­cis Lai, who won an Os­car for the iconic Love Story sound­track, has died, France’s Cul­ture Min­istry said Thurs­day. He was 86.

Nice mayor Chris­tian Estrosi led na­tion­wide trib­utes to Lai, who died on Wed­nes­day. Estrosi said he hopes to name “an em­blem­atic place of our city” af­ter the self­taught mu­sic leg­end, who was born in the city in 1932.

Lai started as an ac­cor­dion­ist, but quickly rose through the ranks as a com­poser, writ­ing songs for singers in­clud­ing Edith Piaf and Yves Mon­tand.

It was af­ter his meet­ing with French New Wave di­rec­tor Claude Lelouch in the 1960s that Lai turned to the sil­ver screen and pro­duced his most fa­mous work.

“He was the man of my life, an an­gel dis­guised as an ac­cor­dion­ist,” Lelouch said in in­ter­view with RTL ra­dio.

“We made 35 films to­gether and we had a love story that lasted 50 years,” he added.

Lai wrote A Man and a Woman for 1966’s Academy Award­win­ning movie of the same name. It fea­tured the well-known mu­si­cal jin­gle “dabad­abada.”

Lai’s suc­cess cul­mi­nated with his 1970 Academy Award for the score of Love Story, one of the most en­dur­ing ro­man­tic movies of all time. Its main song (Where Do I Be­gin?) Love Story boasts house­hold recog­ni­tion even among those un­fa­mil­iar with the movie, thanks to pop­u­lar vo­cal ren­di­tions by Andy Wil­liams and Shirley Bassey.

Fran­cis Lai

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