French songwriter Gilles Thibault, who wrote the song that was the basis for the international smash "My Way," died Aug. 2 of unknown causes at his home in a Paris suburb, according to Agence France-Presse; he was 72.
In 1967, Thibault wrote "Comme D'Habitude" (As Usual) with Jacques Revaux and vocalist Claude Francois. The following year, American singer and composer Paul Anka adapted "Comme D'Habitude" for legendary crooner Frank Sinatra. Anka gave the tune English lyrics and called it "My Way."
Sinatra recorded the song in 1968 in Los Angeles. His version made #27 on the Billboard Hot 100, but, more significantly, it became Ol' Blue Eyes' signature song, one that became a highlight of his concert appearances and became associated with him worldwide. Its English lyrics of successful defiance captured Sinatra's life and career perfectly. In the UK, Sinatra's version of "My Way" (RealAudio excerpt) remained in the top 50 for 122 weeks.
Elvis Presley also charted with "My Way." His version hit #22 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1977. Hundreds of other artists in a wide array of genres recorded the song. Popular versions included those by jazz/R&B singer Nina Simone and the Sex Pistols' Sid Vicious, who cut it irreverently (RealAudio excerpt).
Last year, French musical society SACEM listed "Comme D'Habitude" as the French composition that has collected the most royalties from international performance and sales.
Thibault, born Sept. 21, 1927, began his musical career by playing trumpet in clubs on Paris' famed Left Bank. In the '50s, Thibault joined jazz bands featuring artists such as Sidney Bechet. Around this time, he began writing songs for French performers including Michel Sardou, Sylvie Vartan and rock musician Johnny Hallyday.