AUTOPSIES OF STARS.  Claude François, the mythical death of the artist described in detail by a key witness

AUTOPSIES OF STARS. Claude François, the mythical death of the artist described in detail by a key witness

French singing star Claude François died on March 11, 1978 at his home in Paris. Suicide, electrocution, murder, accident… A look back at a death as tragic as it is mysterious.

While the time and date of Claude François’ death are precise and well known, the same cannot be said of the circumstances of this tragedy which moved all of France. On March 11, 1978, in his apartment at 46 boulevard Exelmans in Paris, the singer from Egypt died suddenly as a result of pulmonary edema which, according to the autopsy carried out, had been caused by electrocution. But how could this have happened?

The death of Claude François, the rumors

The first thing to know is that although electrocution is the most well-known cause of Claude François’ death, some skeptics have long believed that the singer had died in other conditions, far from his bath and a light bulb with bare wires. As is the case with the majority of tragedies involving the death of a star, conspirators and other skeptics usually add their two cents and sow doubt in order to turn an ordinary accident into a tragedy as absurd as implausible. So in addition to the banal electrocution, other rumors circulated to give the causes of the death of Claude François, such as a heart attack during a multi-person get-together, a relationship with a transvestite in the Bois de Boulogne that went wrong or even an overdose. The track of suicide has also been mentioned several times, in particular because of the complex personality of the singer.

Despite all these theories, that of electrocution has remained predominant, but it is on how the singer was electrocuted that opinions have diverged. The thesis of the sex toy has indeed been discussed at length, especially by fans for whom dying while replacing a light bulb with your feet in the bath water seemed too stupid to be true. Many have therefore preferred to think that it was while holding a vibrator in his bath that Claude François died, a both funny and tragic which would have kept the legend alive for a while longer. But this rumor was quickly denied by Josette François, the singer’s sister who spoke in France Evening. “Some people love to make him crazy. Others said he was gay, which he wasn’t. And still, it’s not a sin! He was also given the image of a sex maniac… It’s true that he loved women, I can’t deny it, but not to the point of telling so many stories. His death is stupid, it’s an accident”.

The real death of Claude François

As her sister Josette François said so well, it was an accidental death that brutally put an end to the career of the idol of the time. Numerous testimonies have come to confirm the official story, and in particular that of Inspector Michel Pleiber, one of the first police officers to arrive on the scene the day Claude François diedwho confided in Parisian. Then 27 years old, he remembers that when he arrived, “There was hardly anyone there yet. The emergency services had just left. A few women, whom I assumed were Clodettes, were on the sofa crying their hearts out. A little further, near from the bathroom, the body of Claude François had been stretched out, in his room – which seemed terribly cramped – on his bed”.

The scene depicted is far from the glorious image that Claude François wanted to convey to the thousands of fans who threw themselves at his feet on a daily basis. The man, lying dead on his bed with a sheet up to his chest to cover him, had indeed electrocuted with a light bulb.There was plenty of water around the tub” described the policeman, before adding: “And the wall lamp was detached from the wall and was hanging. He slipped his hand behind the wall lamp and touched the electric wires. He died by electrocution as confirmed by the medical examiner and the duty inspector of the police station of area”. The evidence ? “There was an almost straight hematoma on the right shoulder, which very clearly indicated a fall. This fall made him violently hit the edge of the bathtub. For me, there is no possible doubt: he stood up to straighten the wall lamp”.

A complicated personality and battled controversies

If Claude François marked the 60s and the 70s thanks to all his hits, and if his death contributed to his myththe singer was also known for personality traits and facts much less attractive than Sunny Monday. The personality of the star singer has often been pointed out as problematic, in particular by journalist Isabelle Catélan who describes him as “an obsessive, manic, angry but also generous, bipolar character”. The lyricist Vline Buggy who worked for many years with him will tell the Figaro that it is “temperamental, demanding, perfectionist”. As for his ex-wife Janet Woollacott, who married him between 1960 and 1967, she has already found herself locked away by her husband after she had the misfortune to smile at other men even treated “like an Egyptian slave” that he”covered with insults“.

A controversial personality therefore, to which are added the difficult facts concerning his love life. Claude Francois was known to like young women, especially minors. In the 1970s, he declared to RTBF, “I love until I’m 17-18, after that I start to be suspicious. Of course, I have adventures beyond 18, fortunately, but after 18 I am suspicious, because girls start to think, they are no longer natural (…)”.

In 1998, the magazine Here is revealed the existence of Julie, the singer’s hidden daughter born a few months before his death. Fabienne, Julie’s mother, had 14 years old when Claude François started an affair with her, and 15 years old when she became pregnant with her daughter, whom she had adopted. Relationships with minors for which he used his popularity and his social status and which, if he had survived, could have earned him a few stays in prison. The law stipulates thatan adult is not allowed to have sex with a child under 15 and, “Excluding the case of rape or any other sexual assault, the fact, by an adult, of exerting a sexual attack on a fifteen-year-old minor is punished by seven years’ imprisonment and a fine of €100,000.“In addition to this aspect of his life, the singer had also been accused of tax evasion and left his two sons several hundred thousand euros in debt after his death.

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