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Armenians Pay Last Respects To 'Tender Soul' Charles Aznavour

People lay flowers and place candles around the star of French-Armenian singer Charles Aznavour on the square named after him in Yerevan.
People lay flowers and place candles around the star of French-Armenian singer Charles Aznavour on the square named after him in Yerevan.

Thousands of people have gathered in Yerevan to sign a condolences book and pay last respects to singer Charles Aznavour, the French son of Armenian immigrants who died on October 1 at the age of 94.

Aznavour's songs were played in subway stations, shops, and cafes in the Armenian capital on October 2, and posters with his portrait appeared in the streets.

Mourners laid flowers and wreaths at memorials set up in a cultural center and a city square that bear the name of Aznavour.

The parliament held a moment of silence to pay respects to the singer, who sold more than 100 million records in 80 countries.

"This is a great pain. But it is also a great pride [for us] that such a person was able to stun the world with his talent, skills, and music for a century," parliament speaker Ara Babloyan said after writing a message in the condolences book.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian wrote on his Facebook page that Aznavour's death was "a big human loss," adding that the government decreed a day of mourning on the singer's funeral day.

"Mankind has lost one of the most tender souls of the 20th century," President Armen Sarkisian said in a statement.

"A father has left us, one who only physically was far from his homeland," he added.

Aznavour passed away at one of his homes, in the southeast of France.

He died in his bathtub after suffering heart and breathing problems, an autopsy has found, French prosecutors said on October 2 as tributes continued to pour in from around the world for one of France's most famous performers.

Sting and Lenny Kravitz lauded the "eternal" legacy of the "gentleman" of traditional French singing.

Aznavour's death was front-page news in France, with several newspapers raising him as the "last of the giants."

In Paris, the Eiffel tower was lit up in gold on the night of October 1 in Aznavour's honor, and Mayor Anne Hidalgo called for the French capital to rename a street after him.

Born Shahnour Varinag Aznavourian in Paris in 1924, he began his career peddling his music to French artists of the 1940s and 1950s such as Edith Piaf, Maurice Chevalier, and Charles Trenet.

Aznavour came to prominence came after Piaf took him with her on tour in France and to the United States after World War II.

Details of his funeral are still unknown.

With reporting by AFP, Reuters, and RFE/RL’s Armenian Service
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