France's equivalent of rock 'n' roll legend Elvis Presley, Johnny Hallyday, has died of lung cancer at the age of 74.
Battle With Cancer
Hallyday died on Wednesday, Dec. 6. The legendary artist was admitted to a hospital in Paris on Friday, Nov. 17, for respiratory problems and had been undergoing treatments for lung cancer.
"Johnny Hallyday has left us," Hallyday's wife, Laeticia, said in a statement obtained by The Guardian. "I write these words without believing them. But yet, it's true. My man is no longer with us. He left us tonight as he lived his whole life, with courage and dignity."
The 'French Elvis'
Hallyday earned the nickname "French Elvis" for his role in popularizing the rock and roll genre of music in his country and dominated the French rock scene for half a century.
He gained prominence as an artist shortly after the release of his first single "Laisse les Filles," in 1960, following which he delivered the hit song, "Souvenirs, Souvenirs" and his debut album, Hello Johnny.
He became known for his French-language covers of hit songs as well as his vast catalog of original tracks that were released on dozens of albums through 2015, selling a total of a 100 million records.
Hallyday released a slew of hit albums and singles with his combination of originals and local-language covers of songs, including his two biggest hits, "L'Idole des Jeunes" and "Da Dou Ron Ron." He also covered tracks sung by rock legends including Chubby Checker (his cover of "Let's Twist Again" crossed the 1 million mark in sales) and Jerry Lee Lewis on the 1961 album, Johnny Hallyday Sings America's Rockin' Hits.
Hallyday had a huge fan following in the 60s and sold out stadiums and arenas with his dark, gravely voice and unique charm. He had such a huge impact on his fans that he achieved teen idol status that rivaled the likes of Elvis in the United States.
He continued to perform to thrilling crowds well into his retirement years and also enjoyed a successful movie career after starring in films by renowned directors including Jean Luc Godard, Claude Lelouch, Henri-Georges Clouzot, and Costa-Gravas.
The Music Industry Mourns Hallyday's Death
Shortly after news of Hallyday's passing emerged, many celebrities from the music industry, including Celine Dion and Lenny Kravitz took to social media to express their condolences. Here's what they wrote:
I'm very sad to hear the news that Johnny Hallyday passed away. He was a giant in show business...a true icon! My thoughts go out to his family, his loved ones, and to the millions of fans who adored him for many decades.He will be sadly missed, but never forgotten.- Céline xx…
— Celine Dion (@celinedion) December 6, 2017
Farewell Dear @JohnnySjh. Your friendship, sweetness and support are imprinted in my heart. It is an honor to have known you and to have spent time with you and your beautiful family. Your soul is pure Rock and Roll. Repose en paix. : @candyTman pic.twitter.com/1ZAFUewHlo — Lenny Kravitz (@LennyKravitz) December 6, 2017