How Prince had fond love for France and one Paris venue

As the world mourns the loss of one of the funkiest musicians in history, we investigate Prince's love for France and Paris .

How Prince had fond love for France and one Paris venue
Prince performing on stage at the Stade de France near Paris in 2011. Photo: AFP
The world was stunned on Thursday to learn of the death of US artist Prince at the age of 57, a week after he had been taken to hospital with a bad bout of influenza.
As the world mourned the loss of the musical genius, the French media reflected on the singer's love for France over the years. 
In an obituary in the Le Parisien newspaper, its music reporter recounted meeting the artist backstage in 2010, and in an unrecorded interview (Prince preferred to have a 'discussion'), he opened up about France.
“I love playing in France. I even plan to sing in every single concert hall in Paris. Anyway, I want to live in France,” Prince told the reporter.
“Paisley Park, my base in Minneapolis, is fine for business but I'd really like to move to France.”
Prince performing onstage at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris in 1990. Photo: AFP
Perhaps it's no surprise that Prince was a fan of France, as any French fans would be quick to tell you that the artist was no stranger to the country – especially the Riviera.
In fact, Prince even made headlines in August 2009 after performing two separate concerts in one night (with different set lists) at the Salle Garnier in Monaco. 
The singer was back on the Riviera again in July the next year, performing in Nice and then into the late hours in a Cannes nightclub. 
During the same visit, he even ordered his agent to lodge a bid to become owner of the Nice Jazz Festival, reported France Bleu newspaper, though the paperwork never went anywhere.
And Prince was no stranger to the lesser known venues in France. In fact, the New Morning jazz club (on the Rue des Petites Écuries in the tenth arrondissement) was one of his favourite haunts in Paris, reported Le Parisien newspaper
Alfred Bernardin, a Frenchman who acted as Prince's assistant in France, told the paper that when in Paris, Prince could arrive at the club as late as two in the morning and play until 6am. 
“He was full of energy. We were all a little tired, but not him,” he said. 
Bernardin said that working with Prince meant being a “yes man”, no matter how outlandish and fickle the singer could be.
He recounted, for example, how the Raspberry Beret singer found a “beautiful house” in the 7th arrondissement of Paris, with a studio basement for his music.  
“I rented it out for him for six months, but he never lived there,” the assistant said. 
He also shared stories of how Prince had planned a concert at the Chateau de Versailles in Paris that never came to fruition.
Prince's last show in France would have been at the Opera Garnier in Paris in December last year, though he cancelled the gig due to the November terror attacks. 
Authorities have not given a cause of death for the singer, who sold over 100 million albums in his lifetime. 
Prince performing onstage during his concert at the Bercy venue in Paris in 1987. Photo: AFP

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New songs mark sixth anniversary of French star Johnny Hallyday’s death

Fans of the late Johnny Hallyday, "the French Elvis Presley", will be able to commemorate the sixth anniversary of his death with two songs never released before.

New songs mark sixth anniversary of French star Johnny Hallyday's death

Hallyday, blessed with a powerful husky voice and seemingly boundless energy, died in December 2017, aged 74, of lung cancer after a long music and acting career.

After an estimated 110 million records sold during his lifetime – making him one of the world’s best-selling singers -Hallyday’s success has continued unabated beyond his death.

Almost half of his current listeners on Spotify are under the age of 35, according to the streaming service, and a posthumous greatest hits collection of “France’s favourite rock’n’roller”, whose real name was Jean-Philippe Leo
Smet, sold more than half a million copies.

The two new songs, Un cri (A cry) and Grave-moi le coeur (Engrave my heart), are featured on two albums published by different labels which also contain already-known hits in remastered or symphonic versions.

Un cri was written in 2017 by guitarist and producer Maxim Nucci – better known as Yodelice – who worked with Hallyday during the singer’s final years.

At the time Hallyday had just learned that his cancer had returned, and he “felt the need to make music outside the framework of an album,” Yodelice told reporters this week.

Hallyday recorded a demo version of the song, accompanied only by an acoustic blues guitar, but never brought it to full production.

Sensing the fans’ unbroken love for Hallyday, Yodelice decided to finish the job.

He separated the voice track from the guitar which he felt was too tame, and arranged a rockier, full-band accompaniment.

“It felt like I was playing with my buddy,” he said.

The second song, Grave-moi le coeur, is to be published in December under the artistic responsibility of another of the singer’s close collaborators, the arranger Yvan Cassar.

Hallyday recorded the song – a French version of Elvis’s Love Me Tender – with a view to performing it at a 1996 show in Las Vegas.

But in the end he did not play it live, opting instead for the original English-language version, and did not include it in any album.

“This may sound crazy, but the song was on a rehearsal tape that had never been digitalised,” Cassar told AFP.

The new songs are unlikely to be the last of new Hallyday tunes to delight fans, a source with knowledge of his work said. “There’s still a huge mass of recordings out there spanning his whole career,” the source said.