French rock star Johnny Hallyday dies aged 74

December 6, 2017
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France’s most famous rock star – Johnny Hallyday – has died aged 74 after a battle with lung cancer.

Known as “France’s Elvis”, the singer – who found his musical inspiration in Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly – sold more than 100 million albums and headlined 50 major tours.

Hallyday was France's answer to Elvis Presley
Image:
Hallyday was France’s answer to Elvis Presley

Hallyday’s wife, Laeticia, 42, confirmed that he died at his home in Marnes-la-Coquette, west of Paris, on Wednesday, following hospital treatment.

Mrs Hallyday wrote in a statement: “Johnny Hallyday has left us… He left us tonight as he lived his whole life, with courage and dignity.”

She went on: “Until the very last moment, he held firm against this illness that had afflicted him for months, teaching us all extraordinary life lessons.”

Hallyday announced in March that he had been diagnosed with lung cancer and would be undergoing treatment.

Born in 1943, he changed his name from Jean-Philippe Smet to Johnny Hallyday, and found fame as a rock star in the 1950s.

Hallyday led an eventful life fuelled by drink and drugs, marrying five times, attempting suicide in 1966 and collapsing on stage in 1986.

Despite achieving a God-like status in France, he was almost unknown in the English-speaking world.

He performed alongside both Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan, but failed to achieve his dream of making it big in America.

In response to his death, French President Emmanuel Macron said “There is something of Johnny in all of us.”

Celine Dion called Hallyday “a giant in show business…a true icon” going on to say “he will be sadly missed, but never forgotten”.



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