France's accordion king Andre Verchuren dies aged 92
France's king of the accordion, Andre Verchuren, who entertained generations in the dance halls and on record, died Wednesday aged 92, his son announced.
The son and grandson of accordionists, the virtuoso had still being playing gala events up to the age of 91, his son Williams Verchuren told AFP.
Andre Verchuren, born in the Oise region north of Paris, began playing at age of four and gave his first public performance two years later.
By the age of 14 he was beginning to perform his own compositions and received the accordion world cup.
During World War II he became part of the French resistance efforts, helping allied parachutists to avoid arrest.
He was eventually arrested by the Nazis and sent to the Dachau concentration camp in Germany.
After the war it took Verchuren years to regain the playing agility in his fingers but in the 1950s he achieved popular success via the radio and live performances, eventually recording thousands of songs which were big hits in France.
He had his greatest success with "Les Fiances d'Auvergne" which sold millions of copies.
"It's true that my life can be summed up in a few impressive figures," he told Le Parisien newspaper in 1992.
"Seven million kilometres (4.6 million miles) by car, a million by plane, more than 50 million records sold. And above all I have played for 17 million couples around the world."
© 2013 AFP