French rock star legend Johnny Hallyday passes away at age 74

Johnny Hallyday, nicknamed the "French Elvis Presley", has passed away from a battle with lung cancer. Tributes are flying in from all around the world.

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french rock star johnny hallyday
Cannes, France - 17/5/17: Johnny Hallyday attends the Vengeance Photocall at the Palais Des Festivals during the 62nd International Cannes Film Festival. Photo: Denis Makarenko, Bigstock

The famous French rock and roll star died aged 74 after protracted lung cancer battle. Johnny started singing way back in the 1960 and has 18 platinum albums to his credit.

He sold over 100 million records, completed 181 tours, and starred in over 25 movies. These records put him among the worlds best-selling artists of our time.

Johnny was a singer, songwriter, musician, and actor who collaborated with other top artists like Céline Dion, Julio Iglesias, Mireille Mathieu, Patrick Bruel, Charles Aznavour, Dalida and Sylvie Vartan.

He produced and sold his music with labels like Vogue, Philips, Warner, and Universal through his active years of making music.

Johnny Hallyday was born 15 June 1943 in Paris, France. His real name is Jean-Phillippe Smet. Johnny Hallyday was a stage name he picked after deciding to go into music full time in 1957.

Fans nicknamed him the “French Elvis Presley”. Former French President Jacques Chirac in 1997 bestowed Johnny with prestigious Chevalier of the Legion D’Honneur.

Johnny Hallyday was best known as “Our Johnny” in France but didn’t have much popularity outside the Francophone regions. “The greatest rock star you never heard of” as described by English speaking media.

Johnny Hallyday music career was heavily influenced by the late legend Elvis Presley. He is accredited to have introduced rock and roll into the French music.

This genre started in the 1950s after breaking from the France’s classic “chanson” tradition. His introduction the late Édith Piaf in the late 1950s marked a remarkable turn in his life.

He became a great fan and succeeded to attend all her concerts till her death in 1963. His love for her music led him to perform her hit song “Hymne à l’amour” in 1995. Johhny Hallyday would be remembered as a legend in the show business.

Hallyday has a very successful music career and held several concerts which were marked with thrilling and energetic performances. He had five marriages which produced two children and two adopted children from Vietnam.

His marriage to singer Sylvie Vartan in 1965 and the next year became father to David. The marriage ended in a divorce in 1980. He had a brief spell of marriage with Babeth Etienne lasting only two months and two days. His third marriage to French actress Nathalie Baye resulted in a child Laura Smet in 1983.

Some of his downsides include drugs, heavy partying, drinking, and smoking. These flaws are not enough to obliterate his hard work and love for rock.

Tributes have been rolling in from all over the world including the present French President, and other top artists. His funeral arrangement details would be made available by his family soon.

A moment of silence for the exit of a legend. Farewell Johnny Hallyday.