Johnny Hallyday, 74, French rock star

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Research is the key in The Game Of All Games (http://www.stiffs.com), and information is precious. Therefore, DO NOT blurt out anything you may have heard about a celebrity's health, or even the fact that a famous person is really old, UNLESS that info has appeared on stiffs.com's SickTicker, OR, you have seen or heard it yourself on CNN, ABC, CBS, MSNBC, Fox, AND the Drudge Report. When in doubt, shut the fuck up.

Please also refrain from making public the names of any write-in candidates that have not yet been approved by the Fame Committee. If you don't know what the Fame Committee is, see this immediately: www.stiffs.com/blog/kpr

Be aware, too, that this forum is NOT the place to promote your own shitty dead pool.

One more rule: have fun.

Johnny Hallyday, 74, French rock star

Postby Genius In The Lamp » Wed Dec 06, 2017 9:29 am

From the Guardian:

Johnny Hallyday, who has died aged 74, was France’s rockeur national. In the course of a career that spanned more than half a century, he recorded more than 1,000 songs, sold more than 110m records, and was seen live on more than 180 sellout tours by an estimated 28m people – the equivalent, roughly, of a third of the population of France. It would be difficult to exaggerate the place Hallyday occupied in the collective memory and hearts of his countrymen. Outside France, with the honourable exceptions of French-speaking Belgium and Switzerland, he was viewed mostly with bemusement.

Hallyday’s detractors pointed to the derivative nature of his material: he faithfully copied almost every major rock star from the 1960s on, from Buddy Holly to Elvis Presley, the Who to the Stones, Hendrix to Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi to Prince. More than a quarter of all his recordings were French adaptations of English-language songs. Even his sternest critics, though, would concede that Hallyday was one of rock’s great showmen, almost certainly the only French performer capable not just of selling out, on three successive nights, the Stade de France, but of holding its 80,000-strong crowd rapt in the palm of his hand. His last great free concert, on Bastille Day 2009, at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, drew a live audience of between 800,000 and 1 million people.

Born Jean-Philippe Smet in the Cité Malesherbes estate in Paris, Hallyday was the son of Huguette Clerc and Léon Smet, an itinerant Belgian who at the time was married to another woman. His parents separated within a few months of his birth and Hallyday was raised by a paternal aunt, Hélène Mar. Her two daughters, Menen and Desta, were professional dancers, and from an early age Hallyday accompanied the family on tour in France and abroad. His aunt paid for dance and guitar lessons, and by the age of nine Hallyday was performing on stage during his cousins’ costume changes.

Desta’s husband, an American whose stage name, Lee Halliday, Hallyday borrowed and misspelled, was an early influence: one song the young Johnny performed in Copenhagen in the mid-50s was The Ballad of Davy Crockett. Aged 14 and back in Paris, Hallyday saw Elvis Presley’s Lovin’ You at the cinema: it determined, he would later say, the course of his life.

Hallyday began performing regularly at an early Paris rock venue, Golf-Drouot, and in late 1959 was signed by Vogue records following an appearance on the Paris Cocktail radio show. His first record was released in March 1960; the second single from that four-track EP, Souvenirs Souvenirs, which he performed on television, marked his definitive breakthrough.

By the following year, Hallyday was topping the bill at the Olympia music hall in Paris. His Viens Danser le Twist launched the transatlantic dance craze in France, and a switch to the Philips record label saw the release of his hugely successful first album, Salut les Copains. The first major tour of France by the man now known as l’idole des jeunes witnessed scenes of near-hysteria among fans. A concert at the Place de la Nation drew a crowd of 150,000; France’s yé-yé generation was born and Hallyday was its leader and the country’s biggest new star. President Charles de Gaulle was so disgusted at this corruption of the country’s youth that he suggested Hallyday fans should be drafted into road-gangs “because they clearly have too much energy to spare”.

Johnny Hallyday performing at the Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy stadium in Paris, 1992. Photograph: Francois Xavier Marit/AFP/Getty Images
Remarkably, the singer’s immense popularity in France never really waned. He was, for better or worse, the god of Gallic rock, with all that came with it: the alcohol, the orgies, the fights, the tax scandals and the fast cars (including the Lamborghini from which he walked unscathed after a 125mph pile-up). There was a suicide attempt as early as 1966, and a now-famous drugs confession many years later. There were weddings, flings and divorces. Hallyday was married four times: first, to the pop singer Sylvie Vartan, from 1965 to 1980, with whom he had a son, David; then, in succession, to the actors Babeth Étienne and Adeline Blondieau; and, finally, in 1996, to Laeticia Boudou, a model. He also had a relationship in the 80s with the actor Nathalie Baye, with whom he had a daughter, Laura. All of it helped earn Hallyday some 60 Paris Match covers, more than any other Frenchman. He was a friend of Jacques Chirac, who made him a chevalier of the Légion d’honneur in 1997, and an even closer friend of Nicolas Sarkozy.

Hallyday enjoyed, in fact, the kind of collective adulation the French accord to very few – Edith Piaf, Georges Brassens, Jacques Brel. He was the idol of the farmer and the factory worker, but also of the Left Bank set, who even in the 60s were describing him as “a new Orpheus”, a “French Mayakovsky”, the “ultimate existentialist”. He acted in cult movies, such as Jean-Luc Godard’s 1985 film Détective, and won an award in 2003 for his role in Patrice Leconte’s L’Homme du Train. The conservative Le Figaro summed up his appeal thus: Johnny was, it said, “venerated on the right and on the left, by the people and the intelligentsia, and above all recognised for what he always has been: a sincere artist, a phenomenon on stage, a performer whose every song sticks like [Proust’s] madeleine in the memory of millions of French people”.

Few outside France, of course, ever really understood this. Hallyday’s records went gold 40 times and platinum 22 times in France, yet sold barely a copy in Britain or the US. Besides the biggest talents in French music, from Michel Polnareff to Michel Berger, Jean-Jacques Goldman to Pascal Obispo, he worked with some enormous British and American names – Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Peter Frampton, Mick Jones. Of his 50 studio and 29 live albums, only a tiny handful were recorded in English: in a positively Springsteen-esque snarl, without a hint of an accent. Like the rest, they were huge hits in France, and bombed elsewhere.

Cruel tongues said that Hallyday’s popularity reflected a cavernous void at the heart of French popular music; the deep-seated envy of a country that has never produced its own Beatles or Stones. Others blamed France’s enduring and hugely nostalgic love affair with the post-war US of Route 66 and Rebel Without a Cause, a love affair that Hallyday, blond, beleathered and Brylcreemed, took considerable care to nurture (his favourite pastime, he said, was riding one of his many Harleys through the Californian desert and staying in small motels).

Hallyday’s abiding tragedy, as he himself admitted, was to have been born in France, land of the sentimental chanson. The language of Molière and Descartes, he knew, did not work with riffs and quiffs. “French lyrics are too unwieldy for rock,” he admitted once. “Our words are too long. And in French, you have to sing words that are conneries, you know, stupid things. You just can’t sing rock’n’roll in French.”

He received a diagnosis of colon cancer in 2009, then, later the same year, endured an operation on a herniated disc that resulted in him being put in a medically induced coma for three weeks. When news leaked, the doctor responsible for the surgery was attacked in his home by a masked gang.

Hallyday recovered to put out the album L’Attente in 2012, promoted by his first-ever gigs in the UK, at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Two more followed, in 2014 and 2015, as well as a 90-date tour – Rester Vivant (Staying Alive) – that ended last year.

In the end, then, perhaps one of Hallyday’s greatest achievements was simply to have survived at the top for so long. “I’m just an interpreter,” he once told Le Monde. “I’ve only ever written a few songs in my life, and I needed a lot of cocaine to do that. But I can put across to an audience some of my feelings. And I cannot live any other way.”

He is survived by Laeticia, their daughters, Jade and Joy, and by David and Laura.


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Re: Johnny Hallyday, 74, French rock star

Postby ScottLevison » Wed Dec 06, 2017 11:26 am

Never heard of him.....
The highway sign in my avatar isn't here in Florida...but it should be...
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Re: Johnny Hallyday, 74, French rock star

Postby Tsuga » Thu Dec 07, 2017 4:47 pm

Here's a good one - what about an AP obituary on how Monsieur Hallyday is NOT famous? What a beautiful paradox! Right now, the only way stiffs.com players can tell if somebody is famous is waiting until they are dead and seeing if they get a witty obit.

https://apnews.com/f33211b9b2684dc5b5d7 ... -elsewhere
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