Showbiz

France bids farewell to rocker Hallyday

Hallyday broke from France’s classic “chanson” tradition in the 1950s, starting singing rock and roll in French

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to line the streets of Paris on Saturday to bid farewell to the French rock star Johnny Hallyday, who died this week at the age of 74.

His coffin will be driven in a cortege down the Champs-Elysees followed by a ceremony, where President Emmanuel Macron will pay tribute to the singer.

Hallyday’s band will also perform instrumental versions of his songs.

The French icon died on Wednesday after a battle with lung cancer.

A religious ceremony, which will take place at the Madeleine church in Paris, is expected to be watched by large numbers of the French public.

National television and radio have put out a stream of special programmes since his death, with Hallyday’s best-known songs being played along with recordings of tributes from friends and fans.

On Friday, the Eiffel Tower was lit up with the words “Merci Johnny”.

At the famous L’Olympia music venue in Paris where Hallyday once enjoyed a three-week residency to mark 40 years in show business, the singer’s name was displayed as a tribute.

Mr Macron and Hallyday’s widow Laeticia chose Saturday’s ceremony amid a popular clamour for a national homage.

Beginning at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, Hallyday’s coffin will be driven slowly along the Champs-Elysees followed by hundreds of leather-clad bikers.

The star, whose real name was Jean-Philippe Smet, sold more than 110 million records and starred in a number of films, including one directed by Jean-Luc Godard.

He once performed before a million people in a mobile musical cavalcade down the Champs-Elysees.

However despite 6,000 fans chartering flights from Paris to see him play Las Vegas in 1996, he failed to crack the American or any other English-speaking market.

The singer, who music critics called “the French Elvis”, is likely to be buried on the French Caribbean island of St Barts, where he had his home.

Source: BBC

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