Monday, December 14, 2009

Mega Star

The French papers are full of headlines about Johnny Hallyday, a French pop star who has been hospitalized during a visit to Los Angeles. Johnny who? Yeah, I'm with you. I'd never heard of Johnny Hallyday before I came to France but believe me, he's big here, really big, a legend almost, kind of like Elvis, Johnny Cash, Bruce Springsteen, and Barry Manilow all rolled into one.

Ironically, although he's virtually unknown in the U.S. (perhaps because he sings almost exclusively in French), he was clearly passionate as a young man about America -- especially rock and roll and the iconography of Route 66 -- to transform himself from Jean-Phillippe Smet to superstar Johnny Hallyday. At 66, he has a face ravaged by too much fast living and plastic surgery, a voice full of gravel, a nascent film career, and a gorgeous young wife Laeticia whose picture is constantly in the tabloids with him. His music is not my thing but see for yourself. Millions of French fans are following his current medical crisis closely, so much so that Le Parisien, one of the daily newspapers, has added "Johnny Hallyday" to the navigation on its Web site.

There's a lot of intro on this clip of Que Je T'aime from his 2009 so-called farewell tour. (I get the impression that it's kind of like one of those Barbra Streisand farewells that just go on and on and on.) You might want to skip ahead to 1:15 for the full Johnny effect.


Carolyn said...

We too have followed this despite not really being aware of him before seeing the headlines in Paris. Seems sad a 'routine' operation (?) went awry in L.A.

Clive mentioned it today in Australia but I just asked him if it was on the news here and he said it was from France 24.

Rosabell said...

Everybody in a latin european country knows who Johny Holliday, Silvie Vartan,Mireille Mathieu or Isabelle Adjani are - some of the greatest french stars ever...

Starman said...

Johnny Hallyday was never one I much cared for, but I'm sorry to see he's not feeling well.

Eli said...

Also not a fan - although I do like 'Que je t'aime' - and his rather lovely son!

The story has even made UK papers.

Wren said...

I first heard of Johnny in the late 1970's when I studied French in high school. Apparently the surgery in France preceded his current trouble.
Love your blog by the way!

Virginia said...

Love finally seeing Johnny perform. Peter tried to explain it all to me this summer. I find it so interesting that he is still so big there. And the Vegas!HA A French Englebert Humperdinck I think! :)

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