Eurovision community mourns death of Lys Assia25 March 2018 at 14:17 CEST
With some 1,500 contestants having taken part since that first contest in 1956, it is unfortunately inevitable that the Eurovision community occasionally has to bid farewell to a former contestant. Three months into the year, 2018 already saw the passing of three icons; French singer France Gall who won the contest for Luxembourg in 1965, four-time Eurovision presenter Katie Boyle and, this weekend, the contest's first winner and Grand Dame Lys Assia, who also participated in 1957 and 1958.
A particular chord
Whether a former contestant has been incredibly successful or returned to life outside the spotlights after his or her participation, each passing is sad, especially because of the personal tragedy behind it. After all, each former contestant is first and foremost someone's parent, child, life partner or friend — or all of them.
But the passing of Lys Assia seems to have struck a particular chord in the Eurovision community.
The independent fan sites were quick to share the sad news shortly after it was announced by Swiss television.
This year's Swiss representatives at the Eurovision Song Contest ZiBBZ also expressed their sadness on Twitter:
The BBC commemorated Lys Assia by sharing here 'coronation' as Queen of Eurovision during the 60th anniversary show they hosted in London, back in 2015.
International media reacts
The story was reported in all corners of Europe. "Ensimmäinen euroviisuvoittaja Lys Assia on kuollut" wrote Finnish broadcaster YLE. Dutch NOS reported "Lys Assia, de winnares van eerste Eurovisie Songfestival, overleden", "Eurovision Song Contests första vinnare död" Swedish SVT wrote. The official German Eurovision website also reported on her passing: "Erste ESC-Siegerin Lys Assia gestorben". The French edition of the Huffington Post shared the story with its readers.
Being the first ever Eurovision winner, Lys Assia may have been entitled to the title of First Lady of the contest, yet she never took it for granted. In fact, she acted as proud ambassador for the contest, the success of which no one could imagine back in the days she took part and won. Especially in the last fifteen years Lys Assia proudly carried out the duties of her role as ambassador — a role with unspoken and unwritten duties, most of which she defined herself.
The EBU has always appreciated Lys Assia's ambassadorship, warmly welcoming her at the Eurovision Song Contest.
She will be missed!