Paris, December 7: Renowned French rockstar Johnny Hallyday passed away at the age of 74 due to Cancer. Known for his cowboy swagger, gravelly voice, abundant tattoos and leather biker jackets, the “French Elvis” had tens of millions of fans, above all in his native France, where he sold more records than any other singer.
In the course of a career that spanned more than half a century, he recorded more than 1,000 songs, sold more than 110m records, and was seen live on more than 180 sellout tours by an estimated 28m people – the equivalent, roughly, of a third of the population of France.
Born Jean-Philippe Smet in the Cité Malesherbes estate in Paris, Hallyday was the son of Huguette Clerc and Léon Smet, an itinerant Belgian who at the time was married to another woman.
Hallyday completed 181 tours, had 18 platinum albums, and sold more than 110 million records worldwide, making him one of the world's best-selling artists of all time
Hallyday began performing regularly at an early Paris rock venue, Golf-Drouot, and in late 1959 was signed by Vogue records following an appearance on the Paris Cocktail radio show. His first record was released in March 1960; the second single from that four-track EP, Souvenirs Souvenirs, which he performed on television, marked his definitive breakthrough.
By the following year, Hallyday was topping the bill at the Olympia music hall in Paris. His Viens Danser le Twist launched the transatlantic dance craze in France, and a switch to the Philips record label saw the release of his hugely successful first album, Salut les Copains. The first major tour of France by the man now known as l’idole des jeunes witnessed scenes of near-hysteria among fans. A concert at the Place de la Nation drew a crowd of 150,000; France’s yé-yé generation was born and Hallyday was its leader and the country’s biggest new star.
His death was announced by his wife and the French president on Wednesday, was a rock and roll giant in his native France, surviving drug use, family strife and near-death episodes to strut the stage for more than 50 years.