His appeal was a mystery to many outsiders, who wondered how a culture that valued the elusive quality of "Frenchness" above all else could fall for a man who once moved to Switzerland for tax reasons, applied for citizenship in Belgium, Americanized his name and sought to infuse his music with the idealism of Norman Rockwell paintings and Western films.
Johnny Hallyday, pop singer.Born: 15 June 1943 in Paris.
The cultural exchange seemed to work only one way, however.
Outside the Francophone countries, Hallyday was virtually unknown.
France mourned on Wednesday its most famous rocker Johnny Hallyday, whose power ballads and colourful personal life made him a national treasure, loved by everyone from rebellious teens in the 1960s to modern-day presidents.
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From early on in a career that spanned five decades, Hallyday drove his fans wild, prompting scenes of hysteria in a conservative France then led by the stiff General Charles de Gaulle. "But I don't specially want to succeed elsewhere".
Hallyday, whose real name was Jean-Phillipe Smet, was born in Paris. His mother was French and his father, an alcoholic who abandoned the family, was Belgian.
"The first two - my colleagues - and those who inspired me will forever remain in my heart". The boy began singing and playing the guitar under the wing of an American, Lee Ketcham, in a family act called the Hallidays. "RIP JoJo and thank you for all the music".
Hallyday gave his first professional concert in 1960, under the name Johnny, and put out his first album a year later. The criticism was somewhat abated after Mr. Hallyday, like his idol Elvis, served briefly in his country's military.
Hallyday later married model Laeticia Boudou, a mere 31 years his junior, and adopted two Vietnamese children. A complete list of survivors was not immediately available.
What are your memories of Johnny Hallyday?
"He's quite incredible. People of all ages like him", he added. "I want to be Jean-Philippe Smet again".
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