Claude Barzotti was one of the most popular French singers of the 1980s. Born in Belgium and raised in several different countries --- including Italy, where he spent the bulk of his childhood living with his grandfather --- Barzotti found stability in music. He took music theory classes at school, learned the classical guitar, and recorded his first album, Vous Mes Amis, at the age of 17. Several years later, he signed a record deal with Vogue Belgique, the Belgian branch of the popular French label Disques Vogue, and spent the rest of the '70s releasing albums that went largely unnoticed.
During the first decade of his career, Barzotti's Belgian-Sicilian heritage made it difficult to break into the French market. Things changed in 1981, when his single "Madame" sold over 400,000 copies and helped established him as a new crossover artist. "Le Rital," which dealt with racism and cultural prejudice, became an even bigger hit. Barzotti spent the rest of the decade as one of French's best-selling pop vocalists, maintaining an audience in French-speaking Canada as well. Although his popularity began to wane during the '90s, he wrote Belgium's entry in the 1992 Eurovision Song Contest and continued releasing music into the 21st century. ~ Andrew Leahey