French singer-songwriter Françoise Hardy’s melancholy material was at odds with the relentlessly cheery music German record buyers preferred in the 1960s. But, having studied German, she spoke the language with ease and enjoyed a string of successes in Germany, mostly with German versions of her domestic hits.
She was born on 17 January 1944 in Paris. As she was growing up, she became interested in music and chose a guitar as a reward for passing her baccalaureat in 1961. She quickly learned a few chords and began composing her own songs. This led to her playing dates in small Parisian clubs.
That year she auditioned for the Vogue record label. Though she wasn’t signed immediately,
label bosses encouraged her to take singing lessons.
She duly went off to the Petit conservatoire de la musique de Mireille, after which she was offered
a contract with Vogue.
In April 1962 she recorded the four tracks for her first EP. Oh oh chéri was listed as the lead track, but upon its release, one of the three of her own compositions that made up the rest of the release was the one receiving airplay: Tous les garçons et les filles.
The self-deprecating star offered a more gentle, homegrown sound to that of many of her contemporaries and became a style icon for 1960s Paris. The EP went on to sell over 500,000 copies that year in France alone.
The song gave the singer her first top 30 hit in Germany in 1963 when it was re-recorded as Peter und Lou. The song also charted in its original French version and made the top 20.
She attracted further international atention when she was invited to represent Monaco at the 1963 Eurovision song contest with her own composition, the gentle L’amour s’en va. It was here that her typically shy stage presence worked against her, though she finished a respectable fifth.
It was another year before the coolest of French chanteuses graced the German charts again, this time with an original German composition, Wer du bist. The song had been penned by top songwriters Werner Scharfenberger and Fini Busch, who between them had enjoyed successes with the likes of Heidi Brühl, Petula Clark and Mina.
By this time she was recording in other languages too, notably English and Italian, and cut many records in London.
Her biggest German success came shortly afterwards, with Frag’ den Abendwind, a top ten hit in the summer of 1965, which peaked at number seven and spent six months in the charts. The song had featured in a TV special that the singer had appeared on in Germany and an album was also issued.
Two further hits, Ich bin nun mal ein Mädchen, a cover of her Pourtant tu m’aimes, and Dann bist du verliebt, followed in 1966. At this time, she also recorded a German version of Dans le monde entier, one of her biggest hits, as Ein Fenster wird hell.
She enjoyed one further top 40, in 1969, with Souvenirs der ersten großen Liebe.
An album, Träume, was issued in 1970, which included amongst other tracks Was mach’ ich
ohne dich, a version of one of her biggest hits, Comment te dire adieu.