On 28th March we announced that Star Academy 4 winner Gregory Lemarchal was taking a year out of the music business.
Today I have just learned that the young singer, aged 23, died on Monday 30th April after a long battle with cystic fibrosis. During the series in 2004, he won over the French public with his determination and flawless singing performances week after week, and from day 1 he was predicted to win the contest - which he did, beating off my own favourite Mathieu Johann in the final.
Gregory's recording career was less successful than previous Star Academy winners although his debut album went platinum and his lve concerts were very successful, but he couldn't get much airplay on French radio. In 2006 however, Gregory had lots of airplay and chart success with his duet with Lucie Silvas "Meme Si", and he found love with former "Bachelor" contestant Karine Ferri - the French gossip mags initially viewed this as a publicity stunt, but they were proved wrong as the couple's romance proved to be genuine. Yet just as things seemed to be going well, he lost his battle with the disease which he had bravely fought for years. The president of Universal France, Pascal Negre, described Greg as "a unique talent, a popular artist with an unforgettable voice and great generosity". A very sad loss.