Francis Lai was born April 26, 1932, in Nice, France.
After studying piano as a child, he later discovered jazz and
played at local orchestras of his native region. During the 1950s he
met the singer Claude Goaty and followed her to Paris, eventually settling in Montmartre. At the local
"Taverne d'Attilio", Lai met Bernard Dimey, with whom he
composed his first song and collaborated on well over 100 songs. After
a short period with the orchestra of Michel Magne, Lai became Edith
Piaf's accompanist, for whom Lai also composed a number of songs as well.
His work on Claude Lelouch's 1966 hit
A Man and a Woman elevated Lai to international renown, and
he notched a perennial easy listening favorite with the picture's Brazilian-inflected title tune. He won
an Oscar for the 1970 Arthur Hiller blockbuster
Love Story, and the film's theme,
"Where Do I Begin?," also became a Top 40 hit for Andy Williams, Henry Mancini, and even Lai himself.
Although the composer never again reached the same commercial heights, he continued working regularly in the cinema, often in conjunction with director Lelouch, and composed a number of instrumental favorites, including
"Today It's You," "Happy New
Year," and "Love in the
He has written the music for more than 100 films and composed over 600 songs.
Based on biography by Jason Ankeny