French singer and rock and roll legend Johnny Hallyday, the man who gave Elvis' -Blue suede shoes- a gallic twist passed away after losing his battle against lung cancer, according to a statement issued by his widow, early Wednesday morning.
Hallyday died at his residence in Marnes-la-Coquette, west of Paris after spending six-days under treatment at a Paris clinic, said the statement released via Agence France Press by his wife Laeticia.
One of the first reactions came half an hour later from the Elysee Palace as French President, Emmanuel Macron paid homage to the French rocker in a long communique stating that Hallyday became "the idol of the 60's (French) youth and an icon of the beat generation" adding that "(Hallyday) placed a part of the US in our national pantheon."
Born Jean-Philippe Leó Smet, Hallyday announced March 8 on his Twitter account he had cancer and was undergoing medical treatment: "For the past months I have been on medical treatment because of some cancer cells" said the French rock star
On November 17 he was urgently taken to hospital due to a respiratory insufficiency and underwent chemotherapy.
In her statement, his wife said "he fought right to the last minute against the sickness that ate him alive for months; his will to live was an extraordinary lesson for all of us"
Hallyday was born in Paris on June 15, 1943, of a Belge father and French mother and during his 57-year musical career went on to become a mass phenomenon, publishing over 900 songs in 46 studio records, 25 live records, many becoming Nr 1 hits and his eight films.
Known as the "French Elvis" and the "Father of French rock and Twist" Hallyday, obtained 18 platinum records during his career that kicked off with his first 45 single and Long-Player record in 1960 titled "Hello Johnny".
One year later, came his first huge hit, the French version of "Let's Twist Again", titled "Viens Danser le twist", becoming his first Gold record.
Among his hits titles such as "Rester Vivant", "O Carole" or "Noir c'est noir", the French version of Los Bravos' "Black is black".
He also dived into US country music with "De l'amour", one of his last works "Seul", or the 1964 hit "Le pénitencier", a French adaptation of "The House of the Rising Sun" by The Animals.
His live concerts included themes such as "Requiem pour un fou", the mellower "J'ai pleuré sur ma guitare", or rock anthems such as "Au Café de l'Avenir", "Oh! ma jolie Sarah", "Gabrielle", "La fille de l'été dernier", or more pop oriented songs such as "Quelque chose de Tennessee".
Other reactions today include the announcement by Brussels metro to play Hallyday's music all day in the Belge capital's underground stations, according to a STIB metropolitan authority statement, thus laying claim to his paternal Belge ascendancy.
Hallyday's last concert in Brussels took place last June and became a massive homage to the veteran rocker.
Other reactions included Canadian francophone artist Celine Dion who expressed her "sadness" for the loss of a "true legend"
This unique French artist blended rock, twist, blues, soul and country, ranging from romantic ballads to psychedelic states and was loved by entire generations of French who lived his musical hits and also his occasional descents into hell
Hallyday got married for the first time in 1965 with French chanteuse Sylvie Vartan, the mother of his son, David Hallyday, and was one of France's golden couples until 1980 when they divorced.
At his "La Savannah" residence in Marnes la Coquette, outside Paris, a dozen police vans established a security cordon as the first admirers began paying their respects for the loss of "Johnny Imperator". EFE