He has been called the French Elvis. However, this is unfair on both Elvis and Johnny Hallyday. As an Elvis fan all my life, I was in awe the first time I saw Johnny Hallyday performing in front of one million people backdropped by the Eiffel Tower in Paris in 2001. He was simply brilliant. Celebrating his 60th birthday with a free concert that rocked the country. The only pity for me was that I had not known about him before and that I had never heard Johnny B. Goode as good as that before! He was mouthdroppinly brilliant.
What is similar between the two is the timeline of their respective careers and their music. Both starting in the mid to late fifties with raw rock ‘n roll and a voice that was extraordinary and unique. Both had movie stardom and adoration. Language is all that divided the two. In the French speaking world there is nothing, and I mean nothing and no one that is more popular bigger or well known as Johnny.
It is little known that he worked with Jimi Hendrix. Well before the US even knew Jimi existed. There are no words other than iconic to describe Johnny. Yes, we Anglophones knew Charles Aznavour, Edith Piaf and Jacques Brel in the 60’ and 70’s. I don’t understand why we didn’t have Johnny too.
For me the only difference is that Johnny did not die young as Elvis did. Since the late seventies Johnny has done what very few rock artists have managed. He has has the talent, ability, skill or whatever it has taken to reinvent his style to suit every decade and new generation since.
Johnny just never goes out of fashion. He is the true rocker for all times and ages.
In recent weeks, he has been seriously ill in hospital in Los Angeles. Luckily it seems he will recover, and perhaps entertain his adoring audiences again soon. I hope so.