Johnny Hallyday died

If you’re not European you probably haven’t heard of Johnny Hallyday, but think of him as the French Elvis with a decidedly French romantic strain. Having lived in France for a year in total, I know of him, though I wasn’t a huge fan. But many, many people were, and I’m saddened to report that he passed away this evening at the young age of 74. Reports are scanty since it just happened, but you can read the BBC report here.

A sample:

And even if you can’t read French you can probably understand this:


  1. Merilee
    Posted December 5, 2017 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

    He and Françoise Hardy…

  2. BJ
    Posted December 5, 2017 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

    I certainly do know him! I was introduced to him in the Johnnie To flick Vengeance. Man, do I love that movie. I’m a huge Johnnie fan — Johnnie To, that is. But Johnny is cool, too.

  3. Michael Fisher
    Posted December 6, 2017 at 1:34 am | Permalink

    Celine Dion? The song killer? I hope Johnny doesn’t read Tweets from the ‘other side’!

    It was Eddie Cochran & Gene Vincent that made Johnny possible. Gene coming to Europe [having being banned most everywhere in the USA] helped change the scene here – a force of nature & a psycho with a switch-blade [named Harry or Henry?]. Nutter. Excellent, elemental rocker.

    Cochran was a beautiful creature, sorta Elvis turned up to 11.9 – the California tan & perfect hair was unknown in Britain where every kid was as white as shaved fish & running on empty in a country just out of rationing. Cochran’s presence, looks, accent, intelligence & lyrical wit made him irresistible to all sexes/tendencies. Incredible. Huge influence over here – he brought over “What’d I Say” [Ray Charles] & within months every band in the UK was playing it in their gigs. His influence spread like a wildfire – no Beatles, no nothin’, [I suppose] without Eddie.

    This is the REAL Johnny from 1963, far from being a Gene or an Eddie, live in concert in Amsterdam. I was impressed that he often sung Rock ‘n’ Roll in French – one of the worst languages for that genre, but he tried damned hard!

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted December 6, 2017 at 2:04 am | Permalink

      Please watch the video – it’s funny & touching hearing Johnny ‘doing’ a French Elvis. Flick through, it’s from an innocent age when any kid in the audience was born under the Nazi regime.

      • Posted December 6, 2017 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

        That was great! Great voice, great stage presence and easy on the eye.

    • Merilee
      Posted December 6, 2017 at 8:31 am | Permalink

      Great fun! Oui oui doesn’t work quite the same as yeah yeah…And his suit looks like something an organ-grinder’s monkey would wear. Great voice and moves, though. ( agreed on Céline😖)

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted December 6, 2017 at 10:17 am | Permalink

        He was a strange fish – he died at a good time – before the sexual harassment of women in the music industry becomes central news, so I suppose the French will love him forever. Celine is utterly dreadful! She has an amazing three octave range, but no ‘feel’.

        She better in French than English for some reason.

        • Merilee
          Posted December 6, 2017 at 10:31 am | Permalink

          Agree with you 100% on Céline, Michael. No “soul”, unlike Nina Simone or Sarah Vaughan or Billie Holliday or Joni Mitchell ( Joni is so much better in the “soul” dept. than Judy Collins, par exemple). Laura Nyro was another good one ( who died far too young). And of course Jacques Brel and Leonard Cohen and even Tom Waits.

          • Michael Fisher
            Posted December 6, 2017 at 11:03 am | Permalink

            Blimey – you just posted an A-Team of peeps who ’emote’ correctly

            To those I would add the geezer from Elbow [Manchester band, Mercury Prize], the delectable, unsliceable Polly Jean Harvey from Dorset, who grunges heavier than the old Nirvana [but with lipstick & fucking great lyrics] AND the Radiohead [nobody pays enough attention to Thom’s lyrics]

            On another day we have Procol Harum with Conquistador & Homborg…

            Brel doesn’t do it for me – not a geezer. Soft.

            • Merilee
              Posted December 6, 2017 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

              I wouldn’t call Brel soft😖
              I also love the way Sinatra “emotes” and phrases. And Steve Earle before he hitched up with some kind of insipid chick whom he now seems to tour with.

          • Michael Fisher
            Posted December 6, 2017 at 11:26 am | Permalink

            BTW you’ve got great musical taste for a girlie. A bit too fond of ‘torch songs’ probably. I’m guessing you thrust an arm into the air when “It’s Raining Men” comes on the Jukie.

            But I’d dance [& smooch] with ya! 🙂

            • Merilee
              Posted December 6, 2017 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

              For a girlie?? Harumpf😀 ( not offended ).
              I don’t know It’s Raining Men, but I do love to dance. (Also love The Stones and opera).

  4. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted December 6, 2017 at 2:08 am | Permalink

    For those who read French better than they can understand spoken French, here’s the lyrics of that song in the video – Je Serais Là: (I’ll Be There, of course)


    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted December 6, 2017 at 3:07 am | Permalink

      Umm, ‘Serais’ (as captioned in the video) or ‘Serai’ (as per the lyrics page I linked)?

      “I’ll Be There” translates as “Je Serai Là” (without the ‘s’ on the end).
      ‘Je Serais Là’ is the conditional – “I Would be There”.

      From the lyrics – ‘Quand tu voudras je serai là’ – I think it’s pretty clear it should be ‘Serai’ without the ‘s’.
      (‘When you want, I’ll be there’).

      At least, I think so…


      • Jacques Hausser
        Posted December 6, 2017 at 3:38 am | Permalink

        You are quite right!

      • Posted December 6, 2017 at 5:07 am | Permalink

        “serais” is conditional, following a “si” (if). 🙂

  5. Jacques Hausser
    Posted December 6, 2017 at 3:32 am | Permalink

    I am not a huge fan of Johnny either. But as I’m only two months younger than him, he was, willy nilly, in the background of my whole life. In french speaking Europe he was just inescapable.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted December 6, 2017 at 3:36 am | Permalink

      I put you at 32

  6. Posted December 6, 2017 at 4:42 am | Permalink

    I heard him for 57 years (from when I was 13 and listening to the famous “Salut les copains” radio show every day) More than anything else, in spirit, he was a rocker and a bluesman:

  7. Posted December 6, 2017 at 4:53 am | Permalink

    One of the very first videos I ever made was on August 5, 2007, during the Geneva summer festival. Friends of mine (especially the fat guitarist in a white shirt on the left who has been a friend of mine since I was about 18 years old) played this Johnny Hallyday cover, “L’Envie”, during a sound check as they would perform later on that day:

  8. Eric Grobler
    Posted December 6, 2017 at 5:55 am | Permalink

    Jacques Brel is my hero.

    • Merilee
      Posted December 6, 2017 at 8:34 am | Permalink

      +1 to Jacques Brel.

  9. Ken Kukec
    Posted December 6, 2017 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    … think of him as the French Elvis …

    Pardon, but he seems more like the French Englebert Humperdinck or French Julio Iglesias.

  10. Florent
    Posted December 6, 2017 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    This little known song is hauntingly beautiful. I’m no fan of Johnny at all, but I recognize his importance in the 60′ in France, when he brought American music and culture. But this is so beautiful.

    Who ran on this beach?
    She must have been very beautiful
    Was his sand white?
    Were there yellow flowers
    In the hollow of each dune?
    I would have liked to touch sand
    One time between my fingers

    Who swam in this river?
    You claim she was cool
    And was coming down the mountain?
    Was there pebbles
    In the hollow of each waterfall?
    I would have liked to dive my body
    Once in a river

    Say, do not tell me stories!
    Show me pictures to see
    If all this really existed

    You affirm me
    That there was sand
    And grass
    And flowers
    And water
    And stones
    And trees
    And birds?
    Come on, do not make fun of me!

    Who walked in this path?
    You say he was leading to a house
    And that there were children playing around?
    Are you sure the photo is not faked?
    Can you assure me that this really existed?
    Tell me, come on, do not tell me any more stories!
    I need to touch and see to believe

    Really, it’s true!
    The sand was white?
    Really, it’s true!
    There were children
    That is true?
    It really existed?
    It really existed, really

    • Merilee
      Posted December 6, 2017 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

      Lovely! Why can’t I think of the VERY famous melody??? Beethoven??

      • Florent
        Posted December 6, 2017 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

        It’s the second movement of the Seventh Symphony by Beethoven, indeed =)

        • Merilee
          Posted December 6, 2017 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

          Bien sûr. Merci!

          • Florent
            Posted December 7, 2017 at 6:09 am | Permalink

            Mais de rien !

  11. Gamall
    Posted December 6, 2017 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    A word is missing in Dion’s tweet for the final sentence to make sense, either in the original Tweet or in the copy-paste. I’ve put the obvious correction in capital letters:

    Je suis très triste d’apprendre le décès de Johnny Hallyday. Il était un géant du show-business … une véritable légende! J’ai une pensée pour sa famille, ses proches et ses millions de fans qui l’adorent. Il nous manquera beaucoup, mais ne SERA jamais oublié. – Céline xx…

  12. Posted December 9, 2017 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    France pays homage to late rock icon Johnny Hallyday

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