The night has just lost its queen. Singer Régine passed away this Sunday at the age of 92. She was known for her big pink boa, her red hair and her songs like “La grande Zoa”, “Azzurro”, “Les p’tits papiers” or “Patchouli Chinchilla”. The terrifying performer with a slightly hoarse voice was also a prominent businesswoman while on the road more than twenty branches at the same time† It was his granddaughter Daphne Rotcajg who announced the news to AFP. “Régine peacefully left us at 11 a.m. on May 1,.” in the Paris region, said Ms. Rotcajg.
‘Queen of the Night leaves: closure due to long and beautiful career’points to a press release written at the request of the family by comedian Pierre Palmade, a close friend of Régine for many years. “Leaving with his disco ball and his warm and reassuring chatter”Regina “had danced more than 30 years in his nightclubs the stars of the whole world”, continues this text sent to AFP.
A painful childhood
The artist, Régine Zylberberg by her real name, was born in Belgium in 1929 to Polish-Jewish parents. When his father baked them into poker, his family decided to settle in France, in Paris, in the early 1930s. She had a painful childhood, her mother left home to go to Argentina. During World War II, she was separated from her father and had to hide in the free zone.
At the time of the Liberation, the family was in Paris, where the father opened a bar in Belleville. His daughter likes outings in the capital’s clubs.
queen of the night
Régine discovers the first nightclubs in the 1950s. A friend entrusts her with the animation of a disco in the center of Paris, rue de Beaujolais, “le Whiskey à gogo”, where she meets a novice named Serge Gainsbourg. The young girl knows how to set the mood, sometimes has fun dancing with a full glass on her head, but prides herself on never drinking alcohol.
She then decided to be called only by her first name and opened her own establishment “Chez Régine” in 1956, near the Champs-Elysées, in the Latin Quarter of Paris. The success of this sequin and felt box is immediate. It receives many personalities, such as Yves Saint Laurent and Françoise Sagan. The international jet set crowds quickly into his nightclub. Follows the opening in Montparnasse of “New Jimmy’s”, the club where you dance wild twists. “Time spent sleeping is wasted time”assured this tireless party girl.
The adventure has only just begun for Régine, who opens more than twenty branches around the world: in Paris, Nez York and even Rio de Janeiro. His first name became “the emblem of crazy nights until dawn, dancing itself on the floor until closing”, indicates the text of Pierre Palmade. In 2003, during the 30th anniversary of her Parisian club, Régine finally said goodbye to the world of the night.
In 2009, she had to sell her nightclub “Chez Régine” in rue de Ponthieu. Whoever said she spends a fortune every day claims to be… “ruined”†
An icon of French song
Régine also tries to sing her hand. Her career as a singer really took off in 1965. Her voice seduced the greatest composers. She owes her first success to Serge Gainsbourg who wrote her “Les Petits papiers”. The following year she performed “La Grande Zoa”. Frédéric Botton had written this song for Jean-Claude Brialy, but he refused to sing it.
Régine also sang lyrics by Charles Aznavour or Barbara. In 1979, in French, she recorded Gloria Gaynor’s single “I will Survive”, which became “Je survivrai”. If Régine’s cover was a hit, it was the original that became the national anthem of the French football team in 1998, during its win at the 1998 World Cup.
bitch of the scene
Régine, who discovered the music hall in the 1960s, could never stay far from the stage. She has performed all over the world: after touring the Olympia, she sang at New York’s Carnegie Hall in 1969, becoming – with Edith Piaf in particular – one of the rare French women to conquer America. In Paris she is on the podium of Bobino or La Cigale. In 2009 she released a new album, including duets with Pierre Palmade and Fanny Ardant. A few years later, at the age of 86, she released a triple compilation of her greatest hits and decided to go on tour, for the first time since 1969.
“My greatest joy would be that people will still be listening to my songs in fifty years’ time”she told AFP in 2020. “I am very proud that some of them have become classics of variety. (…) My first job was in discotheques. For a long time singing was just a hobby. Today I realize that the scene was the most important in my life”, said the singer and businesswoman. Wrapped in her legendary boa, at the age of 86, in 2016 she still sang in the Folies-Bergères with her usual enthusiasm: “I will survive”.
The artist has also tried her hand at cinema and reality TV, appearing in the credits of a dozen films. She played notably in “Les Ripoux”, by Claude Zidi (1984), “Grosse Fatigue” by Michel Blanc (1993) or “Jeu de massacre” by Alain Jessua (1967) and “Robert et Robert” by Claude Lelouch (1978). ). †
Great causes and great sorrow
In addition to her career, Régine manages to mobilize “celebrities” for matters that are important to her, such as the fight against drugs, and the creation of the association “SOS Drogue international”. In 2008 his “ami”, President Nicolas Sarkozy, accompanying her on a trip to Israel, raises her to the rank ofofficer of the Legion of Honor† Ironically, a search in 1996 caused the “Palace”, a legendary club she had owned for four years, to close after the discovery of narcotics. In 2004 she separated from most of her clubs. And divorce from her husband, businessman Roger Choukroun, married in 1969.
Two years later, she lost her son, the journalist Lionel Rotcajg, born of a first marriage.
“I’m an exhibitionist. But I’ve always been unhappy with dignity”let them go, afraid not to spread her pain in the public square.