Advertisement

Music’s loss: Moody Blues’ Ray Thomas, 76, and French singer France Gall, 70

Font Size

LONDON/PARIS — Musician and singer Ray Thomas, a founding member of the band Moody Blues, has died at the age of 76, his record label said on Sunday.

Thomas, a flautist and vocalist, died suddenly at home in Surrey, England, on Thursday, according to a statement released by Cherry Red Records and Esoteric Recordings.

“We are deeply shocked by his passing and will miss his warmth, humor and kindness,” the label said.

“It was a privilege to have known and worked with him and our thoughts are with his family and his wife Lee at this sad time.”

Thomas revealed on his Web site in 2014 that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer the previous year.

“My cancer was inoperable but I have a fantastic doctor who immediately started me on a new treatment that has had [a] 90% success rate,” he wrote.




“The cancer is being held in remission but I’ll be receiving this treatment for the rest of my life.”

Thomas rose to fame in the 1960s and ’70s after founding The Moody Blues with bandmates Mike Pinder, Denny Laine, Graeme Edge, and Clint Warwick.

The band — whose hits included “Go Now,” “Nights In White Satin,” and “Question” — have been chosen to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2018.

Thomas, who started out in blues and soul music groups, also enjoyed some solo success with the albums From Mighty Oaks and Hopes Wishes And Dreams.

FRANCE GALL, 70
French singer France Gall, who shot to fame in the 1960s with a series of hits and a sexually suggestive song about lollipops written by Serge Gainsbourg, died Sunday aged 70, her spokeswoman announced.

Gall, who became a star in 1965 when she won the Eurovision song contest as a strikingly blond and slightly awkward teenager, had been battling cancer for two years and died in a hospital west of Paris.

With her blond bob and eyeliner she became an icon at home of the swinging sixties, while internationally she was the little-known inspiration behind the Frank Sinatra classic “My Way.”

Sinatra’s hit was an English adaptation of the 1968 song “Comme d’Habitude” which was written by French glam-rocker Francois about his break-up with the Parisian singer.

During the early part of her career in the 1960s and ’70s she formed partnerships with some of the most famed French musicians of the era, notably Gainsbourg, but also Claude Francois and Michel Berger.

Tributes poured in Sunday for Gall, originally named Isabelle and born to a successful musician father, while radio and television channels aired special commemoration shows.

“France Gall has traveled through the ages thanks to her sincerity and generosity,” said President Emmanuel Macron in a statement. “She leaves behind songs known by every French person and the example of a life that was oriented towards others, those that she loved and those that she helped.”

British actress and singer Jane Birkin, whose collaborations with Gainsbourg also propelled her to 1960s stardom, said Gall was “surprising, candid, mysterious… it’s sad, really sad.”

French star Mireille Mathieu, who worked with Gall early in her career, said “her songs are part of our life.”

Singers Charles Aznavour, Mireille Mathieu, and Patrick Bruel also paid tribute.

After Gall’s first breakthrough at Eurovision with “Poupee de Cire, Poupee de Son” (Wax Doll, Rag Doll), Gainsbourg wrote her 1966 follow-up, the scandalous “Les Sucettes” (The Lollipops) which she sang with childish innocence.

As an 18-year-old, Gall said she hadn’t understood that the lyrics could be interpreted as referring to oral sex and later said she would never have performed the song if she’d known.

“I was humiliated,” she said.

After ending her collaboration with Gainsbourg, she began a hugely successful partnership with Michel Berger in 1974 and would go on to marry the songwriter two years later in a relationship that would be marked by tragedy. He died of a heart attack aged 44 in 1992 and the eldest of their two children, daughter Pauline, who was born with cystic fibrosis, passed away five years later.

Gall disappeared from the public eye after Pauline’s death in 1997, only to reappear in 2015 for a musical stage show featuring her numerous hits with her late husband.

These include the 1981 classic “Resiste” and the 1987 tribute to jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald “Ella, Elle l’a.” — AFP