Eurovision’s first winner Lys Assia dies aged 94

Swiss-born singer triumphed in the contest in 1956 with winning song ‘Refrain’

Lys Assia, the first person to win the Eurovision song contest,  died on Saturday. Photograph: Jacques Munch/AFP/Getty Images

Lys Assia, the first person to win the Eurovision song contest, died on Saturday. Photograph: Jacques Munch/AFP/Getty Images

 

The first ever winner of the Eurovision song contest, Lys Assia, has died aged 94.

The Swiss-born singer triumphed at the inaugural edition of the competition with winning song Refrain in her home country in 1956.

Assia – who turned 94 on March 3rd – died on Saturday at Zurich’s Zollikerberg Hospital, organisers of the contest said.

They offered their “deepest condolences” to Assia’s friends and family and said they will be paying tribute to her “life and her lasting commitment” to Eurovision.

Guest of honour

As well as her 1956 triumph, Assia also represented Switzerland in 1957 and in 1958 where she finished second with Giorgio. Born in Rupperswil in northern Switzerland in 1924, Assia started her career as a dancer before her lifelong connection with Eurovision.

She was a guest of honour at the contest in 1985 while in 2005 she performed to Congratulations to celebrate its 50th anniversary.

Remarkably, at the age of 87, she decided it was time to return as a contestant and unsuccessfully attempted to represent Switzerland in 2012 and 2013.

– (PA)