• LOCATION 14 | The Chairfather: Père Lachaise Part I

    Henri Salvador

    Henri Salvador was a contemporary of Edith Piaf, but lived nearly twice as long. I don't know if he enjoyed himself twice as much, but he certainly spread as much good feeling as was possible in one lifetime.

    He was born in French Guyana in the Caribbean, and was brought by his family to Paris at 12. He left school at 15 to pursue playing guitar. At 18, Django Reinhardt invited Henri to join he and Stéphane Grappelli in the Hot Club, the swingingest jazz band around. While performing, he always made his bandmates laugh, and carried on to the delight of the crowd. After the war, he set off on his own as a 'Creole Singer.'

    His biggest original hit was a child's lullaby known by every French mother and child, 'Une chanson douce'. He introduced audiences to French-language covers of popular American songs like 'The Lion Sleeps Tonight.' He was attracted to Rock'n'roll for its dancing fast pace, but too happy to sing the rebellious anti-establishment tunes. His style was softer, carefree and funny.

    He'd do anything to bring a smile, including silly costumes, and clown-like expressions. He camped as a woman in Juanita Banana. He dressed as a baby in 'Work is healthy.' He was impossible to humiliate, and could imitate with ease. Replicating any sound he heard, whether from an instrument, or a foreign voice, was child's play for Henri, who spoke several languages.

    He remained active and popular into his 70s, when he sang the French version of 'Under the Sea' from the Little Mermaid, and his 80s, when he released his final album.

    Henri was the personification of 'joie de vivre,' the joy of living. You are now invited to whistle as we leave Henri's island for our next encounter.

    Just opposite Henri Salvador, there is a small path between the tombs of the families Yacoel Ziegel on the right and Duchatelet De Meunynck on the left. Take this shortcut.

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The Chairfather: Père Lachaise Part I