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Claude François

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The son of an Italian mother and a French father, Claude François was born in Ismaïlia, Egypt, where his father, Aimé François, was working as a shipping traffic controller on the Suez Canal. In 1951 the job took the family to the city of Port Tawfik on the Red Sea.

Claude François’ mother was very musical and had her son take piano and violin lessons. On his own, the boy learned to play the drums. As a result of the 1956 Suez Crisis, the family returned to live in Monaco, where they struggled financially after Claude’s father fell ill and could not work. A young Claude found a job as a bank clerk and at night earned extra money playing drums with an orchestra at the luxury hotels along the French Riviera. With a good but untested singing voice, he was offered a chance to sing at a hotel in the fashionable Mediterranean resort town of Juan-les-Pins. His show was well received and eventually he began to perform at the glamorous night-clubs along the Côte d’Azur. While working the clubs, he met Janet Woolcoot, an English dancer whom he married in 1960.

Ambitious, Claude François moved to Paris, where there were many more opportunities to pursue his career. At the time, American Rock and Roll was taking hold in France and he took a job as part of a singing group in order to make a living. With the goal of eventually making it as a solo act, he paid the cost to record a 45rpm. Trying to capitalize on the American dance craze « The Twist », Claude François recorded a song titled « Nabout Twist » that proved a resounding failure.

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