Legendary French rocker JOHNNY HALLYDAY has died at the age of 74.
The veteran singer lost his battle with lung cancer at his home in Paris, France on Tuesday night (05Dec17).
Hallyday, who was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year (17), was being treated in a private medical clinic in the French capital, but he was discharged and surrounded by his loved ones at home when he died.
Born Jean-Philippe Smet in Paris in 1943, Johnny began his singing career in the late 1950s. His debut single, Laisse les filles, was released in 1960, but it was his 1961 cover of Chubby Checker’s hit Let’s Twist Again that made him a star after it sold more than a million copies and topped the European pop charts.
Hallyday became a major star in his homeland, and he also helped kick-start the career of another rock legend, Jimi Hendrix, whose first concert as the frontman of The Jimi Hendrix Experience was supporting the French musician at a 1966 gig in Normandy, France.
By the end of the 1960s, Hallyday had recorded with some of Britain’s biggest stars, including Peter Frampton, Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page and the Small Faces, who he hired as session musicians. Hallyday continued to release French language hits throughout the 1970s and 1980s and also embarked on an acting career, starring in Jean-Luc Godard’s 1985 crime thriller Detective and the 1987 science-fiction drama Terminus.
Dubbed ‘the French Elvis’, Hallyday was famous for his gigantic shows, including a 2000 performance in front of an estimated 500,000 fans at Paris’ Eiffel Tower.
Over the course of his career, Hallyday recorded 50 studio albums, 29 live albums, and 165 singles, including the hits Retiens la nuit and Le Penitencier. His final album of new recordings is expected to be released next year (18).
Hallyday had been suffering from ill health for years and he underwent surgery for colon cancer in 2009. Later the same year he was placed in an induced coma in a U.S. hospital following complications from a hernia operation.
He announced he was battling cancer again in March (17), but claimed his condition was not life threatening. He was hospitalised last month (Nov17) with breathing problems – but returned home to live out his final days.
Hallyday is survived by his widow Laeticia Boudou, who confirmed the sad news on Tuesday night (05Dec17), telling the AFP news agency, “Johnny Hallyday has left us. 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.”
Reacting to the news, French President Emmanuel Macron said, “Across generations, he carved himself into the lives of French people. He charmed them through the generosity you saw in his concerts: so epic, so intimate, in huge venues, in small spots.”
Bon Jovi star Richie Sambora and Celine Dion were among the first celebrities to pay tribute on social media – Dion called Hallyday “a legend of showbusiness”.