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Jazz 23/07/2004

French singer Sacha Distel, aged 71

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PARIS, France (Jazz News Website/Universal Music) - French music star Sacha Distel has died aged 71 at the home of relatives near St Tropez, on the Cote D'Azur in southern France.
He had suffered a lengthy illness, and had battled thyroid cancer in 1970 before being diagnosed with skin cancer a decade later.

Perhaps best known around the world for his 1971 hit song 'Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head', Distel was born into a musical family in January 1933. The track topped the charts for 34 weeks, his record company Universal Music France said on its website.

Distel rose to prominence in 1958 with his first chart-topping success 'Scoubidou', and went on to record more than 200 songs during his career.
The epitome of suave French sophistication and charm, Distel won a legion of ardent admirers on both sides of the Atlantic, and was at one time linked with Brigitte Bardot. He worked with many music legends, including Liza Minelli, Dizzy Gillespie, Quincy Jones and Dionne Warwick.
One of his numerous popular songs, 'La belle vie', was later reworked as 'The Good Life' and recorded by Tony Bennet and Frank Sinatra.

In the 1960s, Distel hosted his own 'Sacha Show' on French television, helping to launch the careers of aspiring young artists.

Then, as his popularity at home began to wane in the 1970s, he enjoyed growing stardom in Britain, performing on three occasions for the Queen and playing the lawyer Billy Flynn in the stage musical 'Chicago' in London's West End.
'Sacha Distel had 'swing' under his skin,' French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin said in a tribute released by his office.

He was also a deft jazz guitarist, winning the title of best guitar player of the year from the respected Jazz Hot and Jazz Magazine.
In his native France, where his Sacha Show launched a new generation of stars, Distel was awarded one of the country's highest honours, the Legion of Honour, in 1997.
A private funeral is expected to he held for Distel in Paris tomorrow. He is survived by his wife of 40 years, and former French ski champion, Francine Breaud, and their two sons.

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