Agnès Loti proved a versatile singer, who was able to take on a range of styles. This chameleon-like talent may have proved her undoing, however, as she failed to establish a firm fan base among France’s record-buying public. C’est toi mon idole – her version of Millie Small’s My boy lollipop – remains her biggest hit.
She was born Françoise Perotti in 1944 in Paris.
She showed musical leanings from an early age, and at nine years old, she began learning the accordion.
In 1960, the teenager joined the Jordanettes, the group that provided backing vocals for singer Frankie Jordan. (Jordan is probably best known to fans of female yé-yé for his collaboration with Sylvie Vartan on Panne d’essence.)
However, after a while, Agnès had struck out on her own and began performing solo in cabaret.
After passing an audition with the AZ label in 1964, she went into the recording studios to cut her first record. Four-track EPs were the common format of the day, and Agnès was offered a version of Millie Small’s My boy lollipop, which was translated as C’est toi mon idole. On it, she tells her guy she’s crazy about him and that he makes her heart beat faster than either Johnny Hallyday or Richard Anthony.
For many fans, however, the remaining three tracks are the real highlights of the release: Je pars sans regrets (a take on Irma Thomas’ Break-a-way) and two originals, Tu and Mais peut-être.
The record received a lot of airplay and became a hit. It remains her best-known release.
For the follow up, AZ – rather unimaginatively – raided the Millie Small songbook a second time. However, the choice of Don’t you know, retitled Tout nouveau, tout beau, proved less inspired and failed to chart.
The EP is noteworthy, however, for Aïe n’y touchez pas, a version of the Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil composition I want you to meet my baby for Eydie Gormé, and for Reste encore, a reworking of Rita Pavone’s Just once more.
All eyes were on Agnès’ third EP, Aujourd’hui c’est ta fête, issued in 1965, to see if it could return the singer to the charts. The lead track was a version of I need your hand in mine, originally recorded by Britain’s Twinkle.
Georges Liferman – who had written for the likes of Annie Philippe, France Gall and Liz Brady – was also roped in to provide an original song for the release. However, the tune to his Dis-lui que c’est terminé owed more than a little to Chris Andrews’ Yesterday man, which had been a hit on both sides of the Channel. The lyrics find Agnès in heartless mode as she implores her fella to tell his other girl that it’s over between them. “It’s not very nice to find her always close to you,” she says. “I’d much rather see her go to hell.”
When the release failed, Agnès found herself without a contract.
In 1967 she moved to Italy, where she married and continues to live. She is said to have opened a restaurant there.
More recently, she began teaching French in a local high school, though she has since retired.
She was last seen on French television screens in 1985 performing Tout nouveau, tout beau in a programme called La chance aux chansons.
Follow the links to hear other singers’ versions of Agnès Loti songs
Je pars sans regrets
Beryl Marsden: Break-a-way
Our pick of the pops
Je pars sans regrets
Aujourd'hui c'est ta fête
Dis-lui que c'est terminé
Tout nouveau tout beau
Aïe n’y touchez pas
Sixties girls, vol 1
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Find Agnès Loti 45s at GEMM