Monday, April 20, 2015

Cairo-born singer Richard Anthony dies (updated)

 With thanks: Ahuva

The death has been announced of the great 1960s singer Richard Anthony, aged 77.

Born Richard Btesh in Cairo, Egypt, he was that rare phenomenon, a French singer who managed to become equally successful across the Channel. He recorded 600 songs - 21 reached No.1 in the charts - and sold 50 million records.

There was 'J'entends siffler le train', 'It's my party', 'Let's twist again,' If I Ioved you', 'Itsy Bitsy Bikini'. (Try as I might, I could not  find a single hit that was not a cover for another performer.)

His father Edgar Btesh came from Aleppo in Syria. He was a textile manufacturer in Egypt, but Richard's mother Margaret was British from an Iraqi- Jewish family. Her father was the British honorary consul in Alexandria, Samuel Shashoua Bey.

Richard had a privileged childhood in Egypt but his family was forced into exile by rising nationalism. They first lived in Argentina and then moved to England: Richard, aged 9, was sent to  the prestigious Brighton College. He was a soloist in the school choir.

You may be surprised to learn that in 1966 he recorded 'Zionist lyrics' to this song - more familiar to the English-speaking world as 'California Dreamin' -  and renamed it 'La terre promise' (The promised land).

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