Published: Wed, December 06, 2017
Entertaiment | By Paul Elliott

'French Elvis' Johnny Hallyday dies after battling lung cancer

'French Elvis' Johnny Hallyday dies after battling lung cancer

The first Gallic singer sold over 110 million records during a music career spanning over half a century.

Johnny Hallyday, France's rock "n" roll icon has died, the French president's office said in a statement on Wednesday.

"The rock "n" roll attitude which he brought from the USA made him an idol to youth of the sixties", Macron's office said.

Johnny Hallyday, a legendary French singer and actor, died after a battle with cancer. I write these words without believing them.

"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", Macron said.

Born Jean-Philippe Smet in Paris on June 15, 1943, he borrowed the name of cousin's American boyfriend, Lee Halliday, when he chose to begin his rock career after discovering Elvis as a teenager.


In the span of his career of 50 years, Hallyday recorded over 1000 songs and topped the French music charts more than 30 times, Variety reported. His first album came in 1960, named "Hello!"

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

Hallyday's 2001 concert at the Eiffel Tower drew a crowd as large as 600,000.

During a year of military service he married fellow singer Sylvie Vartan, his first of five marriages.

When asked the best compliment he could receive he once replied, "The show was good tonight". His last roles were in the 2017 comedies Chacun Sa Vie Et Son Intime Conviction and the Guillaume Canet-directed Rock 'n Roll. His ability to bounce back from the tragedies life threw at him is what made him a folk hero among the French people.

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