Edith Piaf

Edith Piaf

French singer
Date of Birth: 19.12.1915
Country: France

  1. Biography of Edith Piaf
  2. Early Life and Childhood
  3. Early Career
  4. Meeting Louis Leple and Raymond Asso
  5. World War II and Aftermath
  6. Later Years and Legacy

Biography of Edith Piaf

Edith Piaf, the greatest French singer, faced numerous trials and tribulations throughout her life, earning her the title of a martyr. She survived four car accidents, seven surgeries, three hepatic comas, several bouts of malaria, a bout of madness, a suicide attempt, and two world wars. Although she passed away before the age of fifty, she captivated millions of men and won the adoration of France with her talent.

Edith Piaf

Early Life and Childhood

According to legend, Edith Piaf was born under a street lamp on one of the streets of Paris, though this is unlikely to be true. She was born as Edith Gassion on December 19, 1915, in the family of acrobat Louis Gassion and aspiring actress Anita Mayar. When World War I began, her father volunteered for the front. Upon his return, he discovered that Anita had left him and gave their daughter to her own parents. Edith's grandparents did not take good care of her, so Louis took her to his mother, who ran a brothel in Normandy. When Edith turned three years old, her grandmother suddenly discovered that she was blind. She underwent various treatments for several years, but there was no improvement. When all hope was lost, her grandmother took her to the city of Lourdes to visit Saint Therese, a pilgrimage site that attracted thousands of people each year. Exactly one week later, Edith miraculously regained her sight at the age of almost six.

Edith Piaf

Early Career

In school, Edith was treated with contempt due to her upbringing in a brothel. Unable to bear the bullying, her father took her to Paris. At the age of nine, Edith began working alongside her father, who performed acrobatic tricks in public squares while she sang. Soon, her talent as a singer was noticed, and she was invited to perform at the cabaret 'Jean-le-Pen', where she performed in the evenings. In 1932, Edith married a salesman named Louis Dupont and gave birth to her daughter Marcelle. However, the marriage was unsuccessful as Louis did not approve of Edith's dedication to her work and eventually left her. More trials awaited her as a pandemic unexpectedly took the life of her daughter and Edith herself fell ill. While Edith recovered, Marcelle did not survive. She was Edith's only child.

Edith Piaf

Meeting Louis Leple and Raymond Asso

Two individuals played significant roles in Edith Piaf's life and shaped her destiny. The first was Louis Leple, whom she met in 1935. He owned the cabaret 'Les Gernis' and invited the aspiring singer to work there. Louis taught Edith to select songs, rehearse with accompanists, choose costumes, conduct herself on stage, and master gestures and facial expressions. It was he who came up with the name 'Piaf' for her, which meant 'sparrow'. From then on, she was known as 'Little Sparrow' on the billboards. Their fruitful creative partnership ended after Louis Leple's mysterious murder. Soon after, another fateful encounter took place. Edith met the young poet Raymond Asso, who not only taught her etiquette and social behavior but also wrote songs for her to perform on the best stages in Paris. It was he who ensured that Piaf appeared in the famous Parisian music hall 'L'ABC'. It was a true triumph. Edith Gassion, the scruffy little girl, who never stopped believing that she would become the great Edith, woke up famous. Newspapers wrote about her, and all of France talked about her. Her voice resounded everywhere.

Edith Piaf

World War II and Aftermath

During World War II, Edith Piaf did not leave France but stayed in the occupied territory. She helped people as much as she could: performing in camps for prisoners of war, giving concerts for families of the deceased, and delivering fake documents to soldiers. Later, all of them expressed their gratitude to her with love and devotion. The post-war years were a period of incredible success for Edith Piaf. Her songs were listened to by both ordinary workers and true art connoisseurs, residents of suburbs, and even the future Queen of England. Edith embarked on a tour of America, where she experienced a true triumph. In the United States, she met the Moroccan boxer Marcel Cerdan, who became the greatest love of her life. However, their romance lasted only a few years. In 1949, Cerdan flew from Paris to New York to meet his beloved, but they never saw each other... The next day, Edith learned that the plane had crashed. She fell into a deep depression that nearly drove her insane. She started drinking and taking morphine, experienced constant seizures, and once nearly jumped out of a window. Piaf was drawn back to the streets. She dressed in rags and sang on the streets, bringing unknown men to her home at night.

Later Years and Legacy

Gradually, old wounds healed. Edith married poet Jacques Pills and continued her solo career. However, fate was merciless to the singer. Her life gradually turned into a nightmare. In 1952, Piaf was involved in two car accidents, breaking both her arms and almost all her ribs. To alleviate her suffering, doctors began giving her morphine, rekindling her drug addiction. Her marriage fell apart, and her creativity no longer brought her a sense of satisfaction. Edith wrote that a life dedicated to song made her lonely. But the singer became even more immersed in her work. In 1958, Piaf performed at the Olympia concert hall. She then embarked on a tour of America and gave several concerts in Europe. The emotional and physical strain took a toll on her health. Moreover, the singer continued to use drugs. In 1961, doctors diagnosed Edith with liver cancer. In her final years, she was supported by a twenty-seven-year-old Greek man named Theo - the last love of the great performer. On September 25, 1962, Edith Piaf gave a concert at the top of the Eiffel Tower. The whole of Paris listened to her songs "Milord," "La Vie en Rose," "Non, je ne regrette rien," and "La Foule." Six months later, she performed for the last time, receiving a standing ovation from the entire audience. On October 10, 1963, Edith Piaf passed away. France mourned her, and the world grieved. The legacy of Piaf's music continues to inspire generations of performers, and her voice remains a treasure of the French nation. Above all, she will be remembered as a person with incredible willpower, a small fragile woman who filled the hearts of millions with love.