LUXEMBOURG – This morning Eurovision 1965 winner for Luxembourg, died aged 70. Isabelle Geneviève Marie Anne Gall was born in Paris on 9 October 1947, to a highly musical family. Her father, lyricist Robert Gall, penned songs for Edith Piaf and Charles Aznavour. Her mother, Cécile Berthier, was a singer herself and the daughter of Paul Berthier, co-founder of Les Petits Chanteurs à la Croix de Bois. The sole daughter of her family, she had two brothers: Patrice and Claude. In spring 1963, Robert Gall encouraged his daughter to record songs and send the demos to music publisher Denis Bourgeois. That July, she auditioned for Bourgeois at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris, after which Bourgeois wanted to sign her immediately. France was subsequently signed to Philips.
Having previously resisted, Gall gave in to her managers at the end of 1964 and recorded a single intended for children. The song “Sacré Charlemagne”, written by her father, and set to the music of George Liferman, was a hit in 1965, selling 2,000,000 copies and peaking at number one.
Gall was then selected to represent Luxembourg in the Eurovision Song Contest 1965. Out of the 10 songs proposed to her, she chose Gainsbourg’s “Poupée de cire, poupée de son.” On 20 March 1965, Gainsbourg, Gall, and Goraguer attended the finals of the song contest in Naples, where the song was “allegedly booed in rehearsals for straying so far from the sort of song usually heard in the Contest at this point.”
Although the delivery during the live show may not have been Gall’s strongest performance—one critic writes that Gall’s performance was “far from perfect”, another notes that her voice was out of tune and her complexion pale, and when Gall called Claude François, her lover at the time, immediately after the performance, he shouted at her, “You sang off key. You were terrible!” — the song impressed the jury and it took the Grand Prix. Success at Eurovision ensured that Gall became even more known outside Europe and she recorded “Poupée de cire, poupée de son” in French, German, Italian, and Japanese. There appears to be no English version released by France Gall herself, although there was an English cover by the English 1960s star Twinkle.
Although struggling in her home country, Gall regularly recorded in Germany from 1966 to 1972, in particular with the composer and orchestrator Werner Müller. She had a successful German career with songs by Horst Buchholz and Giorgio Moroder: Love, l’amour und liebe (1967), Hippie, hippie (1968), Ich liebe dich, so wie du bist (I love you the way you are) (1969) and Mein Herz kann man nicht kaufen (My heart is not for sale) (1970). Some of her other German hits included: Haifischbaby (Bébé requin), Die schönste Musik, die es gibt (The most beautiful music there is/Music To Watch Girls By), Was will ein Boy (What does a boy want?) (1967), Ja, ich sing (Yes, I sing), A Banda (Zwei Apfelsinen im Haar) (Two oranges in my hair), Der Computer Nr. 3 (1968), Ein bisschen Goethe, ein bisschen Bonaparte (A little Goethe, a little Bonaparte), I like Mozart (1969), Dann schon eher der Piano player (Then rather the piano player) (1970), Komm mit mir nach Bahia, Miguel (Come with me to Bahia, Miguel) (1972).
Gall topped the pop charts in many countries in 1987 and 1988 with another song from the Babacar album, Ella, elle l’a (“Ella′s got it”), a Berger tribute to Ella Fitzgerald. Following the release of Babacar, Gall launched a new show produced by Berger. Opening at Le Zénith, the successful production toured throughout Europe, and gave rise to the live album Le Tour de France ’88.
Gall died of an infection complicated from cancer at a Paris hospital on 7 January 2018 at the age of 70.