Rocker Hallyday idolized in native France, obscure elsewhere
PARIS » When French TV crews descended on a Los Angeles hospital in 2009, American reporters didn’t get it. Johnny Hallyday was hospitalized. Who’s he? Only a rock music idol and legend, a man France’s president would eulogize Wednesday as “a French hero.”
Hallyday, known simply as Johnny, made generations of fans in his native France squeal, jump and jive with his dazzling dress, pumping pelvis and tunes by American artists belted out in French. His death at age 74 was a loss even for younger people who might have found his Elvis Presleyinspired act passe.
But the beloved rocker’s stardom
mostly remained confined to France. Media outlets in the U.S. reported Wednesday on the “Johnny” phenomenon that endured for more than half a century.
French President Emmanuel Macron a fan and offstage acquaintance of Hallyday’s, offered a lyrical on-thespot tribute while visiting Algiers for talks on fighting terrorism.
“We had built deep within ourselves the conviction that he was invincible. He is among these men who should have died 100 times because of their lifestyle, because of their overindulgence, because of their battles,” Macron, 39, said “But he never fell.”