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Françoise Hardy

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 idolised Brigitte Bardot and soon discovered Elvis Presley and The Everly Brothers, but it was the gift of a guitar from her father that provided her first artistic inspiration.

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 CillaLulu 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.