Born on 17 January 1944, Françoise Hardy grew up with a hard-up single mum (an accountant’s assistant) and one sister in a tiny Parisian apartment.
She gave up her German language studies at the Sorbonne to concentrate on singing and songwriting at Le Petit Conservatoire De La Chanson, although a first audition at Pathé Marconi ended in tears, as did a session for Philips, where – in a move reminiscent of Decca executives turning down The Beatles – she was advised to take singing lessons.
The third time proved lucky, and she made the grade at Vogue in 1961 after singing Elvis‘s I Gotta Know in French. She released her first EP at the grand old age of 18.
Hardy’s confidential singing style immediately struck a chord with the public and the title track, Tous Les Garcons Et Les Filles, quickly sold over a million copies.
Hardy became an overnight pop idol and style icon, embraced by a burgeoning media suddenly obsessed with youth culture.
Clad in Paco Rabanne or Courrèges, her stunning image and natural grace put her contemporaries Cilla, Lulu and Dusty to shame. Neither a sex kitten like Bardot nor bohemian like Jane Birkin, Hardy was the innocence-personified beauty of 60s French pop.
She still found room to work with Serge Gainsbourg (the jaunty Comment Te Dire Adieu? ) and assert her independence through self-penned songs, all delivered in her warm whisper of a voice.
Hardy announced her retirement after her Decalages album in 1988.
She was lured back to a recording deal in 1996 and cut the now-classic Le Danger, followed by Clair Obscur in 2000.