Claude Nougaro (September 9, 1929 Paris ? March 4, 2004 Toulouse) was a French songwriter and singer. Son of an opera singer and an Italian piano teacher (Liette), he was raised by his grandparents in Toulouse, where he heard Glenn Miller, Édith Piaf and Louis Armstrong (among others) on the radio. In 1947 he failed his baccalaureat and commenced a career in journalism, writing for various journals including Le Journal des Curistes at Vichy and L'Echo d'Alger.
Son of an opera singer and an Italian piano teacher (Liette), he was raised by his grandparents in Toulouse, where he heard Glenn Miller, Édith Piaf and Louis Armstrong (among others) on the radio.
In 1947 he failed his baccalaureat and commenced a career in journalism, writing for various journals including Le Journal des Curistes at Vichy and L'Echo d'Alger. At the same time he wrote songs for Marcel Amont (Le barbier de Belleville, Le balayeur du roi) and Philippe Clay (Joseph, La sentinelle). He met Georges Brassens, who became his friend and mentor.
In 1949 he performed his military service in the foreign legion at Rabat, Morocco.
He sent his lyrics to Marguerite Monnot, ?dith Piaf's songwriter, who put them to music. (M?phisto, Le Sentier de la guerre). He started to sing for a livelihood in 1959 in a Parisian cabaret in Montmartre, Le lapin agile.
In 1962, he decided to sing his works himself: Une petite fille and C?cile ma fille (dedicated to his daughter, born in 1962 to his wife Sylvie, whom he met at Le lapin agile). These songs made him immediately known to the larger public, which he had already started to penetrate by participating in the concerts of Dalida.
A car accident immobilised him for several months in 1963. The following year he travelled to Brazil, and sang in prestigious halls in Paris: the Olympia, the Palais, the Th??tre de la Ville.
Following the death of his friend Jacques Audiberti in 1965 he wrote, in homage, the song Chanson pour le ma?on.
The events of May 1968 inspired him to the torrential Paris Mai, a plea for life, which would be banned from the airwaves. The same year he recorded his first live album at the Olympia: Une soir?e avec Claude Nougaro.
His career continued normally punctuated with success: Le jazz et la java, Tu verras, ?le de R?, Armstrong, Toulouse, Petit taureau. But in 1984, his recording company did not renew his contract. Nougaro left for New York, seeking inspiration, and while there wrote and recorded a self-financed disc, Nougayork, whose resounding success was a surprise.
In 1988 Victoires de la musique rewarded him with best album and best artist, and between 1993 and 1997 he released three new albums.
His health deteriorated after 1995, when he underwent a heart operation. In 2003, his condition left him unable to appear at the festival du Verbe at Toulouse. From 1998 to 2004 he devoted himself more to concerts and festivals, apart from an album in aid of children suffering from AIDS. Having undergone further surgery in early 2004, he died of cancer in March, 74 years old.
His music drew inspiration, among other sources, from American jazz, from which he borrowed heavily (Charles Mingus, Louis Armstrong, Dave Brubeck, Sonny Rollins), but also from Brazilian music (Antonio Carlos Jobim, Baden Powell de Aquino, Chico Buarque).