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Electro star Philippe Zdar dies in fall from Paris window

Electro star Philippe Zdar dies in fall from Paris window

PARIS (AFP) - Electro star Philippe Zdar, one half of the cult French house duo Cassius, has died after falling from a window in Paris -- two days before his latest album is released, his agent said.

Zdar, who was 52, and had worked with a host of rap and electro stars including Kanye West, Pharrell, MC Solaar, Cat Power and the Beastie Boys’ Mike D, is believed to have fallen from a sixth-floor window in northern Paris.

He was a key figure in the so-called "French Touch" wave of electronic bands led by Air, Daft Punk and St Germain.

His agent Sebastien Farran said the Grammy-winner "suffered an accidental fall from a high floor of a Paris building" on Wednesday evening.

Police told AFP that they are investigating the tragedy, a routine move after a such a death.

French media reported that a railing may have given way.

Zdar -- whose real name was Cerboneschi -- was due to play at the Olympia concert hall in Paris on Friday to coincide with the release of the new Cassius album, "Dreems".

‘Implacable iconoclast’ 

The duo became a staple of the French electronic scene with their first album "1999" released the same year, which mixed hip hop, house and funk.

Zdar worked in the studio with a galaxy of international stars including the Beastie Boys, The Rapture and Franz Ferdinand, and helped mastermind the acclaimed French electro album, "Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix", which won him and the band Phoenix the best album Grammy in 2010.

The Recording Academy, the institution that puts on the Grammys, praised his "influential creations," which "will continue to impact music forever."

Franz Ferdinand’s Alex Kapranos hailed him as a "great inspiration, both as a producer, but particularly as a good man and friend".

"His taste was impeccable," the singer-songwriter tweeted.

"He had a huge joy for life, generosity and passion. I will miss him terribly."

Electronic music pioneer Jean-Michel Jarre said Zdar "symbolised everything that was best about music today.

"He was a brilliant iconoclast who had same time was implacably demanding about sound," he told AFP.

‘A true icon’ 

Scottish electro star Calvin Harris was one of the first to react to Zdar’s death, with fans also taking to social media to express their shock.

"Awful news about Phillipe Zdar, what an unbelievably lovely man with an incredible legacy," he wrote on Twitter.

"I was mesmerised by this record ("1999") as a 15-year-old."

British electro producer Skream said: "Just woke up... and I genuinely can’t believe what I’m reading.

"We spoke not even a week ago and everything was as it always was -- a genuine, inspirational chat," said the DJ, whose real name is Oliver Jones.

"The world ya lost a true icon, a visionary," he tweeted.

Zdar formed Cassius in 1996 with Hubert Blanc-Francard, although he and the man who is better known to electro fans as Boom Bass had worked with him since the 1980s.

He was also the owner of the powerhouse Paris studio Motorbass, named after the 90s duo he formed with Etienne de Crecy, another star of the influential "French Touch" house movement.

Zdar, who had three children, is not the first French electro star to die in such tragic circumstances.

DJ Mehdi, who was 34 at the time, died in 2011 after a fall at his Paris home.

Zdar began as a sound engineer for artists such as the legendary French singer Serge Gainsbourg and went on to produce and engineer albums for many stars, including Cat Power’s "Sun", The Rapture’s "In the Grace of Your Love" and recorded Kanye West on the Cassius-inspired song, "Why I Love You".

He made four studio albums with Cassius including "Au reve" in 2002, "15 Again" which marked a turn towards rock in 2006 and "Ibifornia" in 2016, which featured Pharrell, Mike D and Cat Power.