French singer of New Zealand origin Graeme Allwright died Sunday at the age of 93 in Seine-et-Marne, his family announced. "He died last night in the retirement home where he had been living for a year," said daughter Jeanne Allwright.
“He was a singer committed to social justice, a somewhat hipster singer on the fringes of show business who refused television. He sang until the end, he loved being on stage, "said his son actor Christophe Allwright, the eldest of his four children.
A native of Wellington, New Zealand, Graeme Allwright began his acting career in England shortly after the Second World War. It was there that he met his first wife, the French actress Catherine Dasté, whom he had followed in Paris in 1948, and with whom he had three children, the actors Christophe, Jacques and Nicolas Allwright.
From "Pretty bottle" to "Suzanne", the hymns of a generation
He hadn't come to singing until almost 40 years old, with a first CD in French in 1965 called "Le trimardeur", adapted from "protest singer" Pete Seeger. His contested, anti-militarist and deeply humanist repertoire resonates with the aspirations of French youth at the time.
He had adapted many songs by English-speaking folk artists into French. Some of his songs have become the hymns of a generation such as "Pretty bottle", "Small boxes" (by Malvina Reynolds), "Up to the belt" (Pete Seeger), "Who killed Davy Moore? "(Bob Dylan)," Johnny "(original text) and especially" Le jour de clarté "(Peter, Paul & Mary), his greatest success.
In the 1970s, he adapted many songs by the Canadian Leonard Cohen, including "Suzanne". He is also known for having written in 1968 the Christmas song for children "Petit Garçon", French version of "Old Toy Trains" by Roger Miller, or "Sacrée Bouteille" (after "Bottle of Wine" by Tom Paxton).
He then alternates trips and returns on stage, where he continues to perform until 2015. This year, he had performed in Moret-sur-Loing, on the stage of the Thalie Théâtre. In 2010, the Charles Cros Academy awarded him a “grand prize in honorem” for his entire career.
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He had had a fourth child, Jeanne Allwright, born of his union with Claire Bataille, who was also his artistic agent).