Aznavour was born Chahnour Varinag Aznavourian in Paris, the son of Armenian immigrants. His artistic parents introduced him to the world of theatre at an early age.
He began to perform when he was nine and soon took the stage name Aznavour. His big break came when the singer Édith Piaf heard him sing and arranged to take him with her on tour in France and to the United States.
Often described as the "Frank Sinatra of France", Aznavour sings mostly about love. He has written musicals and more than a thousand songs, made more than one hundred records, and appeared in sixty movies. Aznavour sings in six languages (French, English, Italian, Spanish, German and Russian), which has helped him perform at Carnegie Hall and other major venues around the world. He also recorded at least one song from the 18th century poet Sayat Nova, in Armenian.
In the 1970s Aznavour became a major success in the United Kingdom where his song "She" went to Number One in the charts. His other well-known song in the UK was "Dance in the Old Fashioned Way".
A friend of Quebec, he has helped the career of Quebecois singer-songwriter Lynda Lemay in France, and has a house in Montreal.
Since the 1988 earthquake in Armenia, Aznavour has been helping the country through his charity, Aznavour for Armenia. There is a square named after him in central Yerevan on Abovian Street. Aznavour is a member of the Armenia Fund International Board of Trustees. The organization has rendered more than $150 million in humanitarian aid and infrastructure development assistance to Armenia since 1992.
Charles Aznavour was appointed as "Officier" (Officer) of the Légion d'honneur in 1997.
Aznavour's nickname is "Charles Aznavoice", used both by critics and affectionately by some fans. The name of Char Aznable, the main antagonist of the original Mobile Suit Gundam, was derived from Aznavour.