FRANCE GALL: A legend of Eurovision

France Gall

France Gall, who won the 1965 Eurovision Song Contest, has died aged 70. She had been ill for some time, and was undergoing treatment in Paris.

Fans of Eurovision will know her for representing Luxembourg in 1965, when the contest was held in Naples. Her song ‘Poupée de cire, poupée de son’ hit the mood of the time with its upbeat tempo and contemporary sound.

The writer, Serge Gainsbourg, has been described as the ‘enfant terrible’ of songwriting, and his Eurovision winner was way ahead of its time. All of the winners before 1965 had been ballads, but this cut right into the popular style of the time, and arguably paved the way for future contemporary songs such as those by Sandie Shaw, Cliff Richard and even Abba. Putting aside the stage design (that catered more for the orchestra than the performer) and direction that were in their infancy in Naples, here’s France’s performance:

‘Poupée de cire, poupée de son’ scored 32 points, beating the UK’s Kathy Kirby into second place. However, it was the surefire hit from the contest, racking up over 500,000 sales in the months following the contest.

France Gall was born Isabelle Geneviève Marie Anne Gall in October 1947, into a family already involved in the entertainment industry. Her father had written for Edith Piaf and Charles Aznavour, and encouraged her to sing from an early age. Family friend Serge Gainsbourg was her godfather.

Her first single was released in 1963, so by the time of her Eurovision appearance she was an established name in the Francophone music scene. Post-Eurovision, one of her more noteworthy songs was written by Serge Gainsbourg and was entitled ‘Les Sucettes’. Laden with innuendo, France only stopped performing it when it was explained what the song was actually about.

She eventually moved onto sing songs written by her husband Michel Berger. They married in 1974 and were together until his death in 1992. They had two children.

We at Eurovision Ireland offer France’s family our condolences at this sad time.



Author: John Stanton

Source: Eurovision Ireland, EBU

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