Johnny Hallyday: French rock star dies at 74


Johnny Hallyday. Photo: January 2016Image copyright
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France’s biggest rock star Johnny Hallyday has died from lung cancer, his wife says. He was 74.

The singer – real name Jean-Philippe Smet – sold about 100 million records and starred in a number of films.

He was made a Chevalier of the Legion D’Honneur by President Jacques Chirac in 1997.

The French have simply called him “Our Johnny”. However, outside the Francophone zone, Hallyday was almost unknown.

In a statement, his wife Laeticia said: “Johnny Hallyday has left us,” the AFP news agency reports.

“I write these words without believing them. 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,” she said.

Influenced by Elvis Presley, Hallyday broke from France’s classic “chanson” tradition in the 1950s, starting singing rock and roll in French.

“He introduced rock and roll to France. He’s one of the few singers about whom people say that he’s an animal on stage,” journalist Philippe Le Corre once said.

“He’s quite incredible. People of all ages like him,” he added.

Despite his success at home, Hallyday failed to crack the lucrative American or any English-speaking market.


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