By Jean Eckian
PARIS — That day, Wednesday, December 7, 1988, it was 11:41 in Armenia (8:41 in France – and December 6: 23:41 in Los Angeles), when a terrible roar sprang from the bowels of the earth on the surface of the cities of Gyumri (Leninakan), Spitak and Kirovakan (Vanadzor), announcing of the deadliest earthquake ever known in Armenia; 25,000 victims, nearly 20,000 wounded, thousands of orphans, entire cities to rebuild.
In Los Angeles, Georges Garvarentz was still in the studio, attentive to the recording of a film score, he knows nothing of the catastrophe that has just struck Armenia, but Aïda, his wife, heard the terrible news in a televised flash. Upset, she decides not to tell him anything so as not to disturb him in his work. It is the next day, aboard the flight Los Angeles-Paris, that he will learn from the mouth of the sister of Charles Aznavour, what the ancestral land had just undergone. Now, Georges Garvarentz, the famous composer of many successes of the French song, already thought to write a piece of music. He first wanted to see Aznavour who agreed to write the lyrics. The result was the song Ils Sont Tombés (They fell).
Lévon Sayan, Aznavour’s manager, got on a plane to Paris from New York on December 7, 1988. After landing in Paris, Sayan heard the news that an earthquake measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale had just hit Armenia.
In Paris, for Charles Aznavour, it was just stupor.
Everything happened very fast. Lévon Sayan rushed to the phone. At the other end of the line, Charles Aznavour. Ideas fuse. Should we organize a concert? Create an association? An association was created, named “Aznavour for Armenia.” To create it, Sayan got help from Armenian friends, including Nora and Daniel Artinian, Alain Barsikian, Dominique Adjian, and his wife Anne-Marie Sayan.