Brel was born in the Brussels district of Schaerbeek, but lived most of his life in Paris, and later in the South Pacific. He died of lung cancer in a Paris hospital, but his body was buried in the Marquesas Islands in the South Pacific.
He wrote and sang songs in French, and the quality and style of his lyrics were highly regarded by many leading critics of popular music.
Brel's songs are not especially well-known in the English-speaking world except through the English-language cover-versions by singers such as Scott Walker and David Bowie, who recorded Brel’s song Amsterdam on the B-side of his single Sorrow. In French-speaking countries, Brel is also remembered as a film and stage actor and director.
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