French rock star and actor Johnny Hallyday, who became the first French singer to popularize rock & # 39; n & # 39; n & # 39; n & # 39; roll in France and sold more than 110 million records during a musical career of more than half a century, has died, according to Agence France Presse. He was 74 years old and had been fighting cancer for several months.
Known widely as the "French Elvis", Hallyday began his career as a singer in the late 1950s, specializing in French versions of famous songs by artists such as Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochrane and Elvis Presley, whose example inspired him to become a singer
In the early 1960s, Hallyday released his first album, "Hello! Johnny. "The following year he performed at the first French rock festival at the Palais des Sports in Paris, unleashing a tumult that led to the ban on rock & n '# 39; n roll for several months.
The covers Hallyday instantly proved to be a successful way for American rock & n 'roll to infiltrate their way to France, and even gave Jimi Hendrix Experience its first concert as its opening act at Olympia in Paris. in October 1966.
In later years he was smart enough to maintain his popularity and increase his intergenerational appeal by moving into the emotional ballad on a career path similar to that of Presley.
Highlights of his career It was the 2001 concert he gave at the Eiffel Tower that attracted more than 600,000 spectators, during his career he recorded more than 1,000 songs, of which a hundred he wrote himself. French lists more than 30 times.
Unlike his friend, the singer Charles Aznavour, who crossed successfully in the United States, Hallyday could not replicate his success abroad. The Americans saw it for the first time in "The Ed Sullivan Show" in 1962; they followed several concerts, including one in Las Vegas in 1996 in which he sang a version of "My Way" with Paul Anka, but never got many followers.
Hallyday also became an accomplished film actor.He made his first appearance on the screen in 1955 as an extra in Georges' classic thriller "Les Diaboliques" -Henri Clouzot.He made his way in France in "Where Are You From Johnny?", Playing a version of himself barely disguised: a young rocker in the brand.His co-star was the first wife Sylvie Vartan, also singer who tops the list , with which he sang several popular duos.
The role was just a stretch, but his performance went very well with the Hallyday fans.He started to take acting seriously in the 1980s, starring in Jean's "Detective" -Luc Godard c As a boxing manager fallen into debt (real life shadows of Hallyday: he fought for a long time to repay 100 million francs in back taxes) and in the rather loose "Family business" of Costa-Gavras.
Hallyday's best performance, and the one he most appreciated, was like a world-weary criminal in Patrice Leconte's 2002 film "The Man on the Train." There is a wonderful pathos in the scenes between Hallyday and his co-star Jean Rochefort, who plays a retired teacher, each man longs to live the life of the other. Hallyday went with the Jean Gabin Prize of that year to the best actor.
He appeared in "The Pink Panther 2," with Steve Martin, in 2009, and starred in the crime thriller directed by Johnnie To "Vengeance" the same year.
Jean-Philippe Smet was born in Malesherbes, Paris, the son of a French mother and Belgian father. When he was a baby, his parents separated and moved in with his paternal aunt, Helene Mar, a former silent film actress. Later he would take his stage name from his aunt's husband, an American artist named Lee Halliday, who had a determining influence on his life.
From the age of 11, Hallyday hit the road as an entertainer with Les Hallidays, a family group consisting of his uncle Lee and the daughters of Mar Menen and Desta. When Hallyday returned to Paris in 1957, he enrolled in acting and singing classes after seeing Elvis for the first time in "Loving You".
France's first and only rock star experienced a failed suicide attempt, a trail of broken marriages, cocaine use, chronic tax problems, a life-threatening motorcycle accident and, near the end of his life, A horrible operation failed in a herniated disc. T
the fact that he always recovered without complaint made him a popular hero to many French people.
Hallyday is survived by his wife, Laeticia, and his two adopted sons, Jade and Joy; son David Hallyday of his first marriage to Vartan; and her daughter Laura Smet from her relationship with actress Nathalie Baye.