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Johnny Hallyday, French rock star who modelled look on Elvis Presley, lifeless at 74

PARIS — Johnny Hallyday, France’s greatest rock star for greater than half a century and an icon who packed sports activities stadiums and all however lit up the Eiffel Tower along with his high-energy live shows on the foot of the Paris landmark, has died. He was 74.

President Emmanuel Macron, who knew the star off-stage, introduced his demise in a press release early Wednesday, saying “he introduced part of America into our nationwide pantheon.” Macron’s workplace mentioned the president spoke with Hallyday’s household, however did not present particulars about the place the rocker died.

The French media reported broadly that he died at his residence west of Paris, which was shortly surrounded by mourning followers and police offering safety.

Hallyday had had lung most cancers and repeated well being scares lately that dominated nationwide information, and just lately returned from a hospital keep – but he continued performing as just lately as this summer season.

French rock star Johnny Hallyday performs throughout his 50th birthday live performance on the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, on this June 15, 1993 photograph.


Celine Dion was amongst stars sharing condolences for a rocker with a famously gravelly voice who offered greater than 100 million data, stuffed live performance halls and break up his time between Los Angeles and Paris. Brigitte Bardot tweeted: “Johnny is a monument. It’s France!”

A few of France’s main political figures on the left and proper joined Macron in mourning the lack of “Johnny,” as he was identified. Former President Francois Hollande, the Socialist chief changed by Macron, mentioned Hallyday “is a part of our nationwide patrimony.”

Hallyday normal his glitzy stage aura from Elvis Presley, drew musical inspiration from Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly, carried out with Jimi Hendrix, and made an album in nation music’s capital, Nashville, Tennessee.

His stardom largely ended on the French-speaking world, but in France itself, he was an establishment, with a postage stamp in his honor. He was the nation’s prime rock ‘n’ roll star by way of greater than 5 many years and eight presidents, and it was no exaggeration when Macron wrote “the entire nation is in mourning.”

“All of us have one thing of Johnny Hallyday in us,” Macron mentioned, praising “a sincerity and authenticity that saved alive the flame that he ignited within the public’s coronary heart.”


French singer Johnny Hallyday, left, jokes with Colombian singer Shakira, proper, previous to handing the Finest French Tune of the 12 months award to French singer Raphael in the course of the 2006 NRJ Music Awards on the Cannes Competition Palace, Cannes, southern France, Jan. 21, 2006.


The antithesis of a French hero proper right down to his Elvis-style glitter and un-French identify, Hallyday was among the many most acquainted faces and voices in France, which knew him merely as Johnny, pronounced with a slight French accent and beloved throughout generations.

He launched his final album “Rester Vivant” – or “Staying Alive” – final 12 months, and carried out this summer season as a part of the “Outdated Crooks” tour with long-time pals and veteran French musicians Eddy Mitchell and Jacques Dutronc.

Former President Nicolas Sarkozy, as mayor of the wealthy enclave of Neuilly-sur-Seine on the western fringe of Paris, presided in 1996 over the entertainer’s marriage to his fourth spouse, Laeticia.

“For every of us, he means one thing private. Reminiscences, joyful moments, songs and music,” Sarkozy mentioned in 2009, days after Hallyday, then 66, was hospitalized in Los Angeles. Sarkozy referred to as the Hallyday household throughout an EU summit and gave updates on the singer’s situation throughout information conferences.

The star all however lit up the Eiffel Tower throughout a number of free live shows, one on Bastille Day in 2009, attended by greater than 500,000 individuals.

Hallyday sang some songs in English, together with “Scorching Legs” and “Home of the Rising Solar,” – the melody of which was additionally used for one among his most well-known songs, the 1964 “Le Penitencier.”

And there was an actual American connection: American singer Lee Ketchman gave him his first electrical guitar. Hallyday’s stardom, nevertheless, was not inevitable.

He was born in Paris on June 15, 1943, of a Belgian father and French mom in the course of the darkish days of World Conflict II with a much less glamorous identify, Jean-Philippe Smet. His dad and mom had separated by the tip of the 12 months. The younger Smet adopted his father’s sisters to London, the place he met Ketchman.

Hallyday gave his first skilled live performance in 1960, underneath the identify Johnny, and put out his first album a 12 months later. By 1962, he had met the girl who can be his spouse for years, and remained his good friend to the tip, singing star Sylvie Vartan. That 12 months, he additionally made an album in Nashville, Tennessee, and rubbed shoulders with American singing greats.

He shortly turned a favourite of younger individuals in the course of the “Ye-ye” interval, the golden years of French pop music. A revered musician, Hallyday performed with Jimmy Hendrix in the course of the 1960s and as soon as recorded a tune with Led Zeppelin founder Jimmy Web page.

Together with his square-jawed attractiveness and piercing blue eyes, Hallyday was usually sought-out for the cinema, taking part in in French director Jean-Luc Godard’s “Detective” (1984) and with different illustrious administrators together with Costa-Gavras.

Hallyday appeared in Johnnie To’s “Vengeance” (2009) and had talked about giving movie an even bigger function in his life.

Nonetheless, it was the rocker’s private life, and his marriage to Laeticia, that gave him a mellow edge. He spoke lovingly of daughters Jade and Pleasure, who have been adopted from Vietnam.

“I am not a star. I am only a easy man,” he mentioned in a 2006 interview on France three.

Hallyday can be survived by two different kids, Dave, a singer fathered with Vartan, and Laura Smet, whom he had with famous French actress Nathalie Baye.

Memorial plans weren’t instantly introduced.

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