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Jean-Philippe Léo Smet (15 June 1943 – 6 December 2017), better known by his stage name Johnny Hallyday (French: [dʒɔ.ni a.li.dɛ(j)]), was a Frenchrock and roll and pop singer and actor, credited for having brought rock and roll to France.
During a career spanning 57 years, he released 79 albums and sold more than 110 million records worldwide, mainly in the French-speaking world, making him one of the best-selling artists in France and in the world. He won 5 diamond albums, 40 golden albums, 22 platinum albums and 10 Music Victories. He sang nearly 1,154 songs and performed 540 duets with 187 artists. Credited for his strong voice and his spectacular shows, he sometimes arrived by entering a stadium through the crowd and one time by jumping from a helicopter above the Stade de France, where he has performed 9 times. Among his 3,257 shows completed in 187 tours, the most memorable were at Parc des Princes in 1993, at the Stade de France in 1998 (just after France's win in the Football World Cup) and at the Eiffel Tower in 2000, which are all regarded as record-breaking performances in terms of ticket sales for a French artist. A million spectators gathered to see his performance at the Eiffel Tower, joined by 9 million more watching on TV.
Usually working with the best French artists and musicians of his time, he most notably collaborated with Charles Aznavour, Michel Berger and Jean-Jacques Goldman, while his shows were produced by Jean-Claude Camus, considered to be one of the greatest producers in France.
Hugely popular in France, he was usually referred to as simply "Johnny" and seen as a "national monument" (the only one since Edith Piaf) and a part of the French cultural legacy. His exceptional longevity in public life made him a familiar figure for four generations and a symbol of the Thirty Glorious Years when he emerged in 1960. More than 2,500 magazine covers and 190 books have been dedicated to him during his lifetime. His personal life has been greatly exposed to the public, making him one of the persons most widely covered by the media in France along with Charles de Gaulle, Dalida and Brigitte Bardot during the 1960s. His death from cancer in 2017 was followed by a "popular tribute" during which a million people attended the procession and 15 million others watched the ceremony on TV. However, he remained largely unknown in the English-speaking world, where he was dubbed "the biggest rock star you've never heard of" and introduced as the French version of Elvis Presley.
Jean-Philippe Smet was born in Paris on 15 June 1943 to a Belgian father, Léon Smet, and a French mother, Huguette Eugénie Pierrette Clerc. Léon Smet, who worked as a nightclub performer, left his wife and son a few months later. Huguette Clerc then started a modeling career, which left her with little time to care for her son. Hallyday grew up with his aunt, Hélène Mar, and took his stage name from a cousin-in-law from Oklahoma who performed as Lee Halliday. The latter called Smet "Johnny" and became a father figure, introducing him to American music.
Influenced by Elvis Presley and the 1950s rock n' roll revolution, Hallyday became known for singing rock 'n' roll in French. His debut single, "Laisse les filles" was released on the Vogue label in March 1960. His first album, Hello Johnny, was released in 1960. In 1961 his cover of "Let's Twist Again" sold over one million copies and was awarded a gold disc. It topped almost every European chart, although the track did not appear in the UK Singles Chart. He appeared on the American The Ed Sullivan Show with American singing star Connie Francis in a show that was taped at the Moulin Rouge nightclub in Paris. He also staged many appearances in the Paris Olympia under the management of Bruno Coquatrix. For their first concert, The Jimi Hendrix Experience opened for Johnny Hallyday in Nancy on 14 October 1966. Film footage, also from October 1966, exists of Hallyday partying with Hendrix, his manager Chas Chandler and others. He also socialised with Keith Richards and Bob Dylan.
At the end of the 1960s, Hallyday made a string of albums with Mick Jones (who write "Johnny, my dear Friend and Inspiration throughout the years. I will miss you terribly. You will live on in my everlasting memories") and Tommy Brown as musical directors, and Big Jim Sullivan, Bobby Graham and Jimmy Page as session musicians. These are Jeune homme, Rivière... Ouvre ton lit (aka Je suis né dans la rue) and Vie. On Je suis né dans la rue, Hallyday also hired both Peter Frampton and the Small Faces. Amongst their contributions are the songs "Amen (Bang Bang)", "Reclamation (News Report)", and "Regarde pour moi (What You Will)", which are variations of Small Faces and Humble Pie (Frampton's band) songs—tracks and they all play on the album. Often forgotten is Hallyday's non-LP single and EP track "Que je t'aime" from the same sessions. By 1969 alone, his record sales exceeded twelve million units.
One of Hallyday's later concerts, 100% Johnny: Live à la tour Eiffel in 2000, attracted an audience of 500,000 and 9.5 million television viewers (the show was broadcast live on French TV). In December 2005, Hallyday had his third number-one single on the French SNEP singles chart since its establishment in 1984, "Mon plus beau Noël" (after "Tous ensemble" and "Marie"), dedicated to his adopted daughter Jade. Shortly before announcing his retirement from touring in 2007, he released a blues-flavored album, Le Cœur d'un homme. In addition to the lead single "Always", Le Cœur d'un homme features "T'aimer si mal", a duet with blues musician Taj Mahal and "I Am the Blues", an English-language song (uncharacteristically for Hallyday) written by U2's lead singer Bono. His next album, Ça ne finira jamais, released in 2008, another No. 1 on the French album chart, and its lead single, "Ça n'finira jamais", also reached No. 1. Hallyday's last album was Tour 66: Stade de France 2009, a live set recorded at Stade de France during his farewell tour. In 2011 Johnny Hallyday released album "Jamais seul", recorded with Matthieu Chedid, and started touring again. In 2012 he gave concerts in different countries, including Russia, and released album "L'Attente". Later Johnny released two live albums - "On Stage" and "Born Rocker Tour" (a recording of his 70th anniversary concerts in Bercy and Theatre de Paris). Albums named "Rester Vivant" and "De L'Amour" were released in 2014 and 2015 respectively. In 2015-2016 Johnny had a big "Rester Vivant Tour". A concert in Bruxelles was released as a live album in 2016.
Marriages and children
Hallyday was married five times - including twice to the same woman - with the first four marriages ending in divorce. His last marriage was his longest, lasting twenty-one years.
His first marriage was to French singer Sylvie Vartan, lasting fifteen years from 1965 to 1980. Their son David was born in 1966. His second marriage to Babeth Étienne was his shortest, lasting for 65 days. Hallyday then had a four-year relationship with French actress Nathalie Baye. Their daughter Laura was born in 1983. His third and fourth marriages were to the same woman, Adeline Blondieau, from 1990 to 1992, and from 1994 to 1995. Inaugurated by Nicolas Sarkozy his fifth and final marriage was to Læticia Boudou from 1996 until his death. The couple adopted two girls from Vietnam: Jade Odette Désirée, born 3 August 2004 (formerly Bùi Thị Hoà), in November 2004, and Joy (Maï-Hường), born 27 July 2008, in December 2008.
Hallyday, who resided in Los Angeles, owned a chalet in Gstaad, Switzerland, from 2006 to 2015 to avoid the high tax rate imposed by the French government. Hallyday said that he would have moved his residency back to France if it changed its tax laws. In January 2014, Hallyday said that his current residence was in the United States after an investigation by a Swiss journalist showed that Hallyday did not spend enough time in Gstaad to qualify as a resident. One of his favorite leisure activities was riding his Harley-Davidson on long trips through the California desert, staying in small motels along the way.
Illness and death
In July 2009, Hallyday was diagnosed with colon cancer, and underwent surgery. On 26 November 2009, Hallyday underwent surgery in Paris to repair a herniated disc. He suffered complications and was admitted to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Doctors announced that they had put Hallyday into a medically-induced coma so they could repair lesions that had formed as a result of the surgery, and to relieve his pain. On 17 December 2009, Hallyday and his wife started legal proceedings against Dr. Stephane Delajoux, who had performed the original surgery. The conflict was resolved in February 2012 following Delajoux's vindication by medical investigators.
Hallyday died of lung cancer in the night between 5 and 6 December 2017 in Marnes-la-Coquette, near Paris, at the age of 74. French President Emmanuel Macron paid tribute, saying he "transcended generations and is etched in the memory of the French people". On 9 December, his funeral was held in Paris; 800 000 lined the Champs-Élysées as his body was taken to the Madeleine Church and the service was attended by Macron and two of his predecessors. He was buried on the French Caribbean island of Saint Barthélemy on 11 December 2017.
In February 2018 his two oldest children, David and Laura, announced that they were contesting his will, which left his entire estate to his last wife Laeticia and their two adopted children. The will was drafted in California, and their lawyers contend that it violates French laws which prevent children from being disinherited.
Hallyday was once called "the French Elvis". The Daily Beast described Hallyday as, "a hip swiveling, leather-clad Gallic answer to Elvis Presley who shook up his home country’s music scene with American-style rock-n-roll and bad-boy antics." He remained largely unknown outside the Francophone world, and was sometimes described as "the biggest rock star you've never heard of" in English-speaking countries. He was made Chevalier (Knight) of the Légion d'honneur in 1997 and Officer of the Order of the Crown (Belgium) in 2001.
Main article: Johnny Hallyday discography
- Hallyday, Johnny; Sthers, Amanda (2014). Dans mes yeux : Johnny Hallyday se raconte à Amanda Sthers. Paris: Pocket. ISBN 9782266236225. OCLC 887560125.
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- ^"Johnny Hallyday rocks Brussels' blues away". Radio France Internationale. 27 March 2016. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
- ^ ab"Johnny Hallyday – Site Officiel". Johnnyweb.fr. Retrieved 15 July 2014.
- ^ ab"Johnny Hallyday: the biggest rock star you've never heard of". December 9, 2017. Retrieved January 6, 2018.
- ^Brandle, Lars (March 8, 2017). "Legendary French Singer Johnny Hallyday Is Being Treated for Cancer". Billboard. Retrieved March 18, 2017.
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- ^Who's Who in France. 2008. p. 1099.
- ^"Huguette Eugénie Pierrette Clerc". geni.com.
- ^(Hallyday 1979, p. 7-10)
- ^Sthers, Amamda (7 December 2017). "Hommage à JOHNNY HALLYDAY : L'ENFANT DU 9e" (in French).
- ^ abcChrisafis, Angelique; Willsher, Kim (6 December 2017). "Johnny Hallyday, the 'French Elvis', dies at 74". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
- ^Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 80. ISBN 0-600-57602-7. CN 5585.
- ^Archived 20 November 2014 at the Wayback Machine.
- ^ abMurrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 136. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
- ^Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 101. ISBN 0-600-57602-7. CN 5585.
- ^"VIDEO. Quand Jimi Hendrix et Johnny Hallyday tournaient en Lorraine en 1966". Republicain Lorrain. 8 September 2016. Retrieved 6 December 2017.
- ^"Quand Jimi Hendrix Faisait la Première Partie de Johnny Hallyday". Le Journal de Dimanche. 6 December 2017. Retrieved 6 December 2017.
- ^"Mick Jones Facebook". Le Journal de Dimanche. 6 December 2017. Retrieved 6 December 2017.
- ^"Video Interview Foreigner et Johnny Hallyday Taratata 23.12.1994". 23 December 1994. Retrieved 6 December 2017.
- ^[Frampton and Small Faces contribution on 1969 album.] Steve Marriott – All Too Beautiful... (Paulo/Hellier) ISBN 1-900924-44-7 p.324
- ^"Mon plus beau Noël", French Singles Chart Lescharts.com (Retrieved 4 October 2008)
- ^"Paroles et traduction Johnny Hallyday : Mon Plus Beau Noël – paroles de chanson". lacoccinelle.net. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
- ^"Le Cœur d'un Homme". AllMusic. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
- ^"Ça Ne Finira Jamais". AllMusic. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
- ^"Ça n'finira jamais", French Singles Chart Lescharts.com (Retrieved 25 November 2008)
- ^"Tour 66: Stade de France 2009". AllMusic. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
- ^"Mort de Johnny Hallyday : Sylvie Vartan a le cœur "brisé"". Paris Match. 6 December 2017. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
- ^Royer, Marion (6 December 2017). "Mort de Johnny Hallyday : Babeth, l'épouse oubliée". Gala. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
- ^"Mort de Johnny Hallyday : son ex Nathalie Baye réagit sur les réseaux sociaux". Voici. 6 December 2017. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
- ^Rousset, Virginie (6 December 2017). "Mort de Johnny Hallyday — Adeline Blondieau, la femme qu'il a épousée deux fois". Gala. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
- ^"Johnny Hallyday". Nndb.com. Retrieved 26 March 2012.
- ^Louaguef, Sarah (5 February 2015). "Johnny Hallyday vend son chalet pour 9,5 millions d'euros". Paris Match. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
- ^"Entertainment | Hallyday exile row gets political". BBC News. 18 December 2006. Retrieved 15 July 2014.
- ^"French rocker prefers California to Gstaad". swissinfo.ch. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
- ^ ab"Le fin for the original French pop idol". The Independent. London. 14 May 2009. Retrieved 17 October 2009.
- ^"Johnny Hallyday tour cancelled because of health problems". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 July 2014.
- ^"French rocker Johnny Hallyday in induced coma". The Daily Telegraph. 10 December 2009. Retrieved 15 July 2014.
- ^"Entertainment News, Celebrity and Pop Culture". ABC News. Retrieved 15 July 2014.
- ^"Johnny Hallyday comes to agreement with doctor after long-running dispute – The Connexion". connexionfrance.com. Retrieved 15 February 2016.
- ^"Johnny Hallyday est mort cette nuit à l'âge de 74 ans". Le Parisien. Le Parisien. 6 December 2017. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
- ^"Johnny Hallyday, the Elvis Presley of France, Is Dead at 74". The New York Times. 5 December 2017. Retrieved 6 December 2017.
- ^"Johnny Hallyday: French rock star dies at 74". BBC. 6 December 2017. Retrieved 6 December 2017.
- ^"Les réactions de politiques à la mort de Johnny Hallyday". Le Monde. 6 December 2017. Retrieved 6 December 2017.
- ^Breeden, Aurelien (9 December 2017). "'Merci, Johnny': Hallyday Honored With Rock-Star Funeral (and Motorbikes)". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
- ^Ascensio, Amandine (9 December 2017). "Saint-Barthélemy se prépare à accueillir Johnny Hallyday pour l'éternité". Le Figaro (in French). Retrieved 9 December 2017.
- ^"Johnny Hallyday's children contest exclusion from his will". BBC. 12 February 2018. Retrieved 12 February 2018.
- ^Christopher Muther (8 May 2014). "Johnny Hallyday is more than just a French Elvis". Boston Globe. Retrieved 27 November 2014.
- ^Marc Myers (19 April 2012). ""French Elvis" Plays America". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
- ^Erin Zaleski (6 December 2017). "Johnny Hallyday, We Hardly Knew You!". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
- ^Willsher, Kim; Stares, Justin (15 January 2006). "Go, go Johnny go – but to Belgium?". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 3 May 2012.
- ^Samuel, Henry (11 May 2009). "End of the road for France's Elvis". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 3 May 2012.
- ^"ORDRE DE LA LEGION D'HONNEUR Décret du 31 décembre 1996 portant promotion et". JORF. 1997 (1): 29. 1 January 1997. PREX9612816D. Retrieved 5 April 2009.
- ^(in French)"Johnny Hallyday, officier de l'ordre de la Couronne!". La Dernière Heure. 2 June 2001. Retrieved 11 December 2017.
- ^ abcdefghijklmnop"Johnny Hallyday". British Film Institute. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
Hallyday's first wife, Sylvie Vartan, in 1966
Hallyday's fourth and final wife, Læticia Boudou, in 2009