The night just lost its queen. Singer Régine died 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 creepy, slightly hoarse-voiced artist she was also a prominent business woman as she headed more than twenty factories at the same time. It was his granddaughter Daphne Rotcajg who announced the news to AFP. “Régine left us peacefully on May 1st at 11 am.” in the Paris region, Ms. Rotcajg said.
“The queen of the night is leaving: closure for a long and great career”indicates a press release written, at the request of the family, by comedian Pierre Palmade, a close friend of Régine for many years. “Left with his disco ball and his warm, reassuring jokes”Queen “stars from all over the world had danced for more than 30 years in his discos”, continues this text sent to AFP.
A painful childhood
The artist, Régine Zylberberg with her real name, was born in Belgium in 1929 to Polish Jewish parents. When her father was cooking them in poker, her family decided to settle in the early 1930s in France, in Paris. She had a painful childhood, her mother left home to go to Argentina. During the Second World War she was separated from her father and she had to hide in the free zone.
At the Liberation, the family finds themselves in Paris, where the father opens a bar in Belleville. His daughter loves going out in the clubs of the capital.
queen of the night
Régine discovers the first night clubs in the 1950s. A friend entrusts her with the animation of a nightclub in the center of Paris, rue de Beaujolais, “le Whiskey à gogo”, where she meets a beginner named Serge Gainsbourg. The girl she knows how to set the mood, sometimes she enjoys dancing with a full glass on her head, but she takes pride in never drinking alcohol.
He therefore decided to be called only by name and in 1956 to open his own factory, “Chez Régine”, near the Champs-Elysées, in the Latin quarter of Paris. The success of this sequin and felt box is immediate. He receives many personalities, such as Yves Saint Laurent and Françoise Sagan. The international jet-set quickly flocks to his nightclub. This will be followed by the inauguration of “New Jimmy’s” in Montparnasse, the club where you can dance wild twists. “Time spent sleeping is wasted time”assured this tireless reveler.
The adventure has just begun for Régine, which is opening more than twenty factories around the world: in Paris, Nez York and even Rio de Janeiro. Her name became like that “the emblem of crazy nights until dawn, dancing herself on the floor until closing time”, indicates the text by Pierre Palmade. Régine finally said goodbye to the night world in 2003, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of his Parisian club.
In 2009 he had to sell his “Chez Régine” nightclub on rue de Ponthieu. The one that he said to spend a fortune every day then claims to be “ruined”.
An icon of French song
Régine also engages in singing. Her singing career really took off in 1965. Her voice seduced the greatest composers. You owe your first success to Serge Gainsbourg who wrote his “Les Petits papiers”. The following year she performs in “La Grande Zoa”. Frédéric Botton had already written this song for Jean-Claude Brialy, but he refused to sing it.
Régine also sang lyrics by Charles Aznavour or Barbara. In 1979, he took over Gloria Gaynor’s single “I will Survive” in French, which became “Je survivrai”. If Régine’s cover was a great success, it was the original that became the anthem of the French football team in 1998, during its victory at the 1998 World Cup.
bitch of the scene
Régine, who discovered the music hall in the 1960s, could never stay too far from the stage. She has performed all over the world: after passing through Olympia, she sang at Carnegie Hall in New York in 1969, becoming – with Edith Piaf in particular – one of the rare French women to have conquered America. In Paris she will then go up on the stage 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 still listen to my songs in fifty years”he told AFP in 2020. “I am very proud that some of them have become variety classics. (…) My first job was in nightclubs. For a long time singing was just a hobby. Today I realize that the stage was the most important in my life”, said the singer and businesswoman. Wrapped in her legendary boa of hers, at 86, she still sang in 2016 at the Folies-Bergères with her usual enthusiasm: “I will survive”.
The artist has also ventured into cinema and reality TV, appearing in the credits of a dozen films. In particular, he starred 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 pain
Beyond her career, Régine knows how to mobilize “celebrities” for causes that are important to her, such as the fight against drugs, by launching the association “SOS Drogue international”. In 2008 his “friend”, President Nicolas Sarkozy, whom he accompanies on a trip to Israel, elevates her to the rank ofofficer of the Legion of Honor. Ironically, a search in 1996 resulted in the closure of the “Palazzo”, a legendary club which she owned for four years, after the discovery of drugs. In 2004 she split from most of her clubs. And her divorce from her husband, businessman Roger Choukroun, married in 1969.
Two years later he loses his son, the journalist Lionel Rotcajg, born of a first marriage.
“I’m an exhibitionist. But I’ve always been dissatisfied with dignity”she lets herself go, anxious not to spread her pain in the public square.