Johnny Hallyday, the Elvis of France, dies at 74


Death of the national pop icon from cancer was announced in a statement from the office of President Emmanuel Macron.

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Johnny Hallyday, France's rock 'n' roll icon has died, the French president's office said in a statement on Wednesday, reports CNN. He was 74 years old.

Hallyday had announced that he was being treated for cancer last March, CNN affiliate BFM reported.

"We all have a piece of Johnny Hallyday inside every one of us," a statement from President Emmanuel Macron's office said. "The public today is in tears, and the whole country mourns."

He is survived by his wife Laeticia and their two daughters, Jade and Joy; his son David from his marriage with famed singer and actress Sylvie Vartan and a daughter from his relationship with actress Nathalie Baye.

While the French Elvis was hardly known by many Americans, in the French-speaking world there was only one "Johnny."

Hallyday was born to a French mother and Belgian father on June 15, 1943 as Jean-Philippe Smet. He became interested in singing as a teenager after watching Elvis in a movie.

He captivated French young people in the 1960s, introducing them to motorcyles, fast cars and dance moves like the twist.

"The rock 'n' roll attitude which he brought from the US made him an idol to youth of the 60s," Macron's office said. "When the good days of rock 'n' roll were over, the public could have abandoned him but a new life for him began."

His career spanned for more than half a century, filling up stadiums and selling millions of records. An army of fans followed his tours from big cities to small towns.

As the years passed, Hallyday branched out from his rock 'n' roll origins, catching new trends as they came along. He tried practically every musical genre, from R&B and pop to country and acid rock.

Read more of this report from CNN.

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