Thursday 18 October 2018

Icon Johnny Hallyday, 'the French Elvis', dies aged 74

Johnny Hallyday, France’s biggest rock star for more than half a century, died yesterday. Photo: Reuters
Johnny Hallyday, France’s biggest rock star for more than half a century, died yesterday. Photo: Reuters

Elaine Ganley and Angela Charlton

Johnny Hallyday, France's biggest rock star for more than half a century and an icon who packed sports stadiums and all but lit up the Eiffel Tower with his high-energy concerts at the foot of the Paris landmark, died early yesterday after a battle with cancer. He was 74.

French President Emmanuel Macron, who knew the star offstage, announced his death in a statement, saying "he brought a part of America into our national pantheon". In a second comment during a visit to Algeria, he said that "we were convinced he was invincible ... he is a French hero".

The French media reported he died at his home west of Paris, which was quickly surrounded by mourning fans and police providing security.

"Hearing about Johnny's death has hurt us because Johnny is our God and nobody can replace him," said one fan, Yves Buisson, outside the Hallyday family's gated home in Marnes-la-Coquette. His arms were covered with tattoos of the star.

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. Photo: AP
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. Photo: AP

Hallyday had lung cancer and repeated health scares in recent years that dominated national news, and recently returned from a hospital stay. But he continued performing as recently as this summer.

Celine Dion was among stars sharing condolences for a rocker with a famously gravelly voice who sold more than 100 million records, filled concert halls and split his time between Los Angeles and Paris.

Brigitte Bardot tweeted: "Johnny is a monument. It is France!"

He is survived by his wife Laeticia, three daughters and a son.

"My man is no more," his widow said.

Irish Independent

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