'French Elvis' Johnny Hallyday dies at 74

Lawrence Kim
December 7, 2017

Despite a few attempts to break the global market, Hallyday remained largely unknown in many parts of the world - although it didn't stop him from reportedly amassing an impressive 100 million-plus albums sold or performing to roughly 750,000 people at a free concert held at the Eiffel Tower in 2009 - all milestones befitting the performer who, as journalist Philippe Le Corre is quoted as saying, "introduced rock "n" roll to France".

Hallyday, born Jean-Philippe Smet in 1943 in occupied Paris, chose to be a singer after seeing the Elvis Presley film Loving You in 1957.

Paris transport bosses have renamed a metro station after the legendary French rock star Johnny Hallyday, whose death has plunged France into mourning. But yet, it's true. "My man is no longer with us".

"He left us tonight as he lived his whole life, with courage and dignity".

His death was announced in a statement early Wednesday by president Emmanuel Macron's office, saying: "He brought a part of America into our national pantheon". "He charmed them through the generosity you saw in his concerts: so epic, so intimate, in huge venues, in small spots". He took one of his uncles' stage name and became Johnny Hallyday.

Born on June 15 1943, he attempted suicide in 1966, collapsed on stage in 1986 and married five times, twice to the same woman, the daughter of one of his oldest friends and songwriters.

After seeing Elvis Presley on screen in 1957, Hallyway decided he wanted to be a singer and began his transformation into a rock star. The gravelly voiced star packed out sports stadiums in France for decades and was considered a national institution. He also appeared in The Pink Panther 2.

French fans Andre Thibert, left, and Andre Duval pay tribute with a poster of the late rock star while walking to his house in Marnesla-Coquette, outside Paris, yesterday.

Celine Dion wrote: "I'm very sad to hear the news that Johnny Hallyday passed away".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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