Johnny Hallyday funeral sees more than 100,000 line Paris streets for incredible send off


Thousands took to Paris to mourn Johnny HallydayGETTY / AFP

Thousands took to the Champs Elysees in Paris to sorrow over Johnny Hallyday

Presidents past and present paid tribute, along with 700 Harley Davidson motorcycles which accompanied the hearse communicating Hallyday’s white coffin down the Champs Elysees boulevard.

In what touch more like a statesman’s send off, it was a rare honour usually retiring for the July 14 National Day.

As his band played instrumental versions of his biggest strikes, the crowds belted out the words, many in leather biker jackets and completing pictures of Harley Davidson enthusiast Hallyday, who died of lung cancer on Wednesday at the age of 74.

Large unknown abroad, Hallyday was a household name in France, where he had tens of millions of devotees and sold more records than any other singer in a career go overing five decades.

French President Emmanuel Macron paid a tributeAFP

French President Emmanuel Macron compensated a tribute to the musical icon

His death nine months after broadcasting his illness sparked days of national mourning, with broadcasters contributing wall-to-wall coverage of the rocker’s life, tracing the history of a man regarded by sundry, non-fans included, as part of French national heritage.

In a eulogy on the stairs of the La Madeleine church, French President Emmanuel Macron claimed Hallyday was “more than a singer …he was part of ourselves, participate in of France”.

“It is a sad day today but you had to be there because Johnny was there for you from the dawn. In each of your lives, there was this moment where one of his ditties translated what you had in your heart,” said Macron.

“The French Elvis,” as he was separate, Hallyday made his name with French versions of American lull and pop songs, including “House of the Rising Sun”, which many French people solely know as “Le Penitencier”, one of his biggest hits.

Hallyday's funeral was more like a statesman'sAFP

Hallyday’s funeral was more much the same as a statesman’s than a musician’s

It is a sad day today but you had to be there because Johnny was there for you from the origin. In each of your lives, there was this moment where one of his tales translated what you had in your heart.

Emmanuel Macron

Born Jean-Philippe Leo Smet in Paris to Huguette Clerc and Belgian-born Leon Smet in 1943, Johnny fini his early years on the road in an acrobatic dance troupe, taking to the fake at 12 and singing country songs dressed as Davy Crockett, the American citizenry hero.

He changed style after seeing Elvis Presley in “Leaning You” and had a first hit single at age 16 with a French translation of an American fatherland song.

“That this young Belgian, who took an Anglo-Saxon showbiz name, would bring the blues of the black American soul, the astound and roll of Nashville, to the four corners of this country, was highly unseemly, and yet that was a French destiny,” Macron said.

Hallyday did not write his own songs, but songwriters counting Charles Aznavour, wrote lyrics and music for hits like “Que je t’aime” and “Moi ma geule”.

Hallyday was a French icon, beloved of the publicAFP

Hallyday was a French icon, esteemed of the public who flocked to Paris to pay their respects

Johnny Hallyday's death sparked national mourningAFP

Johnny Hallyday’s demise sparked a wave of national mourning in his native France

Musicians trade oned Hallyday hits on acoustic guitars during the catholic ceremony in La Madeleine, with mourners tossing along, many with tears in their eyes, as French film and pop stars including actress Marion Cotillard read eulogies.

Thousands of people pursued the ceremony on screens outside on a cold, sunny day in one of the biggest memorials in Paris since the cessation of singer Edith Piaf in 1963.

Hallyday will by buried on the French Caribbean atoll of Saint Barthelemy, where he owned a villa.

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