Françoise Hardy, Influential French Singer and Actress, Dies at 80

News of her passing was shared on social media by her son

Photo: Joost Evers (via Dutch National Archives)

BY Calum SlingerlandPublished Jun 11, 2024

Françoise Hardy — the celebrated, best-selling French singer-songwriter and actress associated with European yé-yé pop music — has died. News of Hardy's passing was shared on social media by her son, singer-songwriter and guitarist Thomas Dutronc. She was 80.

Hardy began her music career in the early '60s, releasing a series of untitled albums via French label Disques Vogue that would come to be respectively known by their most popular songs. Debut LP Tout les garçons et les filles arrived in 1962 and became a commercial success, putting Hardy at the forefront of French popular music. The following year, translated re-recordings of Tout les garçons et les filles would race up the charts in Italian, German and English-speaking markets. In reference to her early popular music style, the US version of the album was released under the title The "Yeh-Yeh" Girl from Paris!

Five of Hardy's early full-lengths were notably reissued in 2015 by Light in the Attic sub-label Future Days Recordings, bringing her material to new generations of listeners.

A press release for the reissue series offered, "Françoise Hardy, with her brunette hair and alluring bangs, will forever personify a particularly French brand of cool. She was one of the few girls to write her own songs, and she did so from a place of depth and subtlety. Though she was a muse to the likes of Bob Dylan and Mick Jagger, Hardy remained reticent of fame, preferring privacy and modesty. She was a pop singer with the heart of a chanteuse, a singer-songwriter in an age before such a thing was known, and a style icon incredulous of others' admiration of her."

Hardy was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2004, and pursued chemotherapy treatment that was initially successful. She was admitted to hospital in March 2015 after her condition worsened, and nearly died upon being put into an artificial coma. During her stay, she also broke her hip and elbow. That year, she told French daily Le Figaro, "I'm very isolated, very handicapped by illness. There are periods where I absolutely can't see anyone and I can't go out."

Hardy's continued treatment left her unable to continue singing later in life. Speaking with magazine Paris Match in 2021, she shared, "I am not afraid of dying, but I am very, very afraid of suffering, especially since that is already the case, afraid also of the suffering of having to separate myself from the two I love most in the world, Thomas and [father Jacques Dutronc]." She was a proponent of physician-assisted death, sharing that year, "When my condition becomes even more unbearable, I will, unfortunately, not have the relief of knowing I can euthanized," calling France's stance at the time "inhumane."

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