JWith her dark voice, uliette Gréco breathed the most beautiful songs about love and suffering into the microphone. Now the French chanson legend and actress Juliette Gréco died on Wednesday at the age of 93. She died at home with her family in Ramatuelle, east of Marseille, said a message from the family to the AFP news agency. Gréco became world famous in the 50s and 60s with chansons such as “L’accordéon”, “La Javanaise” and “Déshabillez-moi”. She is considered an icon of French chansons, interpreted the texts of Jacques Prévert and Serge Gainsbourg.
The French philosopher and existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre discovered them in a cellar bar in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, the Parisian intellectual quarter par excellence, in the 1950s. Through him she was also introduced to the artistic and intellectual elite of the time. Like her, Gréco dressed in black. Pale face, black hair and black clothes: Gréco stayed true to this style all her life. In the French media she is described as the “lady in black” with the “eyes of a cat”.
Married three times
Gréco was born on February 7, 1927 in Montpellier, France. She spent most of her childhood with her grandmother and in a monastery, as she hardly knew her father and her mother had joined the resistance during the Second World War. Although her mother and sister were victims of the Gestapo, she was one of the first French singers to appear in post-war Germany in 1959.
It was not only in their songs that it was passionate and stormy. Gréco was married three times, including the actors Michel Piccoli and Philippe Lemaire. The legendary black jazz trumpeter Miles Davis was one of the early lovers. In 1988 she married the pianist Gérard Jouannest, who accompanied her on the piano. Gréco had a daughter who died in 2016.
She had prepared well for her departure from the music world. In 2015, when Gréco was 88 years old, she said goodbye with a farewell tour with the simple name “Merci”. You have to know when the time has come to stop, she said. She has been singing for 65 years, that is a long working life. Her farewell tour “Merci” also took her to Germany. “Your voice, your elegance, your strength remain unforgettable”, writes the French newspaper “Le Monde” about Gréco.