Françoise Hardy – French Singer, Model – Has Died

Pop culture mourns its loss...

French icon Françoise Hardy has died.

A hugely popular artist in her native France, Françoise Hardy went through tough spells with her health in the 21st century. Diagnosed with MALT lymphoma in 2004, successive chemotherapy treatments saw the singer retreat from the limelight; in 2021, she revealed that she would never singer in public again.

Continuing to go through treatment, news of Françoise Hardy‘s passing was confirmed overnight. She was 80 years old.

Born in 1944, Françoise Hardy was raised in a single parent family by her mother; in post-war France, this brought severe social stigma, something the singer would later attribute to her experiences with anxiety and depression.

Given a guitar for her 16th birthday, Françoise Hardy auditioned for Discques Vogue in 1961, releasing her first EP the following year. Initially relegated to a B-side, her sombre ‘Tous les garçons et les filles’ is a tale of youthful alienation, and it struck a chord with listeners, becoming an instant classic across the Francophone world.

Writing and recording extensively, Françoise Hardy became a mega-star in France, one of a handful of performers who would define the 60s. Vastly popular on the pop charts, she was sought after as a model, appearing on magazine covers around the world.

Although broader success in the English language market would evade her, Françoise Hardy was highly regarded by artists in this country – Mick Jagger was said to be infatuated with her, and she opened a short-lived nightclub in London in 1970 that was named in her honour.

Curiously, it took to the 90s for UK audiences to truly catch up with her. Name-checked by Belle & Sebastian, lauded by a new indie generation, blur travelled to France to record with her, for a duet version of ‘To the end’.

While her prolific work rate in music dimmed in the 1970s, Françoise Hardy broadened her experiences as an award-winning actress. Marrying fellow French pop legend Jacques Dutronc, the two had a son – Thomas – together; the two led separate lives during subsequent decades, but remained married.

In addition to a side career as an astrologer, Françoise Hardy released her autobiography Le désespoir des singes… et autres bagatelles in 2008 – an immediate best-seller in France, it sold more than a quarter of a million copies.

It’s a sign of Hardy’s enduring influence that tributes span the full range of modern music – from pop to dance, via hip-hop. Chuck D writes: “Over in France… us beat diggers found some vintage stuff in Francoise Hardy records.”

Hollywood actor Elijah Wood writes:

Charlatans singer Tim Burgess pays his respects:

Acclaimed American label Light In The Attic writes: “Incredibly saddened to hear about the passing of Françoise Hardy, a legendary singer-songwriter, actress, French icon, and eternal cool girl.”

-
Join the Clash mailing list for up to the minute music, fashion and film news.