The music and entertainment industry mourns the loss of Jane Birkin, the distinguished singer and actress, who has passed away at the age of 76, as confirmed by French media. Celebrated for her extraordinary talent, Birkin’s star power shone brightly through her noteworthy partnership with musician Serge Gainsbourg. During the late 1960s and 1970s, she emerged as a style icon, captivating audiences worldwide. Although originally hailing from London, Birkin found her artistic calling by singing in French, eventually making France her home in the 1970s.
Reports from French media indicate that Birkin was discovered lifeless at her residence in Paris. Her personal and artistic connection with Gainsbourg, which began when they met on the set of the film “Slogan,” led to their international fame after the release of their chart-topping hit “Je t’aime… moi non plus” in 1968.
Despite the song facing radio bans in multiple countries and condemnation from the Vatican due to its explicit content, it introduced Birkin and Gainsbourg to a new global audience. Birkin and Gainsbourg shared a passionate relationship for 12 years, and even after their separation, they maintained a strong friendship. Gainsbourg, who was 18 years Birkin’s senior, continued to write songs for her until his demise in 1991. Together, they raised their daughter, Charlotte Gainsbourg, who later achieved critical acclaim as an actress and singer.
Often described as a “tumultuous” partnership, Birkin revealed in her 2020 diaries that their relationship was marred by instances of violence. Nevertheless, she staunchly defended Gainsbourg against allegations of harassment made by another singer in a 2020 interview with The Times. When questioned about their unconventional lifestyle, Birkin candidly acknowledged the challenges faced by their children, stating, “I don’t know how easy it was for the children to have a mother who was naked in magazines and a father burning 500 franc notes. I hope one did some things right.”
Following their separation in 1981, Birkin continued to pursue her acting and singing career, delivering remarkable albums such as “Baby Alone in Babylone” in 1983 and “Amour des Feintes” in 1990. Prior to her move to France and her encounter with Gainsbourg, she had been married to esteemed British composer John Barry until the late 1960s.
Tragically, Birkin experienced the loss of her daughter Kate Barry, a renowned fashion photographer who worked with Vogue, in 2013 at the age of 46. Furthermore, from her relationship with French film director Jacques Doillon in the 1980s, Birkin welcomed her third daughter, Lou Doillon, who has since made a name for herself as a musician, model, and actress. Birkin’s acting credits include notable films such as the 1966 classic “Blow Up,” “Death on the Nile” (1978), and “Evil Under the Sun” (1982). In addition to her acting pursuits, she showcased her songwriting abilities with her self-penned album “Arabesque” in 2002 and a collection of live recordings titled “Jane at the Palace” in 2009.
Birkin’s influence extended beyond her artistic endeavors. As a model, she became widely recognized as a fashion trendsetter, inspiring the creation of the iconic Birkin handbag, which was brought to life by Hermes. Paying tribute to Birkin, Menna Rawlings, the British ambassador to France, took to Twitter to honor her, describing her as “the most French of British artists.” Similarly, French Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot expressed her sadness during an interview with the French TV station BFM, remarking, “This departure is so sad. She was a beautiful person.” In September 2021, it was reported that Birkin had suffered a stroke, leading to the unfortunate cancellation of her planned appearance at an American film festival.