French singer Johnny Hallyday dies at 74 after battle with cancer


Johnny Hallyday aka the "French Elvis" has died after battling lung cancer for several months.

"Johnny Hallyday has left us", the singer's wife, Laeticia, said in a statement to Agence France Presse.

"I write these words without believing them. My man is no longer with us", she wrote. Macron spoke to Hallyday's family after the news and said that "we all have something of Johnny Hallyday in us".

"Across generations, he carved himself into the lives of French people", Mr Macron said.

While his music was little-known outside of France, Hallyday became known as the "Patriarch of French pop" for bringing American-style rock and roll to the country in the 1960s.

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He signed with Vogue Records in 1959 and released his first single "Laisse les Filles" in 1960, followed by his debut album Hello Johnny.

The singer - real name Jean-Philippe Smet - sold about 100 million records and starred in a number of films.

The highlight of his music career came when he performed in front of more than 600,000 at the Eiffel Tower in 2001.

When asked the best compliment he could receive he once replied, "The show was good tonight".

Hallyday was for many years married to French singer Sylvie Vartan and the two were considered a musical power couple. After his parents split, Hallyday moved to live with his aunt, Helena. His ability to bounce back from the tragedies life threw at him is what made him a folk hero among the French people. His last roles were in the 2017 comedies Chacun Sa Vie Et Son Intime Conviction and the Guillaume Canet-directed Rock 'n Roll.