French rock star Johnny Hallyday dies at 74

French singer Johnny Hallyday
Credit
Jacques BrinonĀ /AP

French singer Johnny Hallyday Credit Jacques BrinonĀ /AP

Hallyday had been battling lung cancer, the Guardian reported.

The first Gallic singer sold over 110 million records during a music career spanning over half a century. In 1997, Hallyday was made a Chevalier of the Legion D'Honneur.

The leather-clad would-be Elvis, known simply as Johnny, announced in March he had been diagnosed with the disease and would undergo treatment. However, outside the Francophone zone, Hallyday was nearly unknown.

Star: Johnny Hallyday is seen in this picture from September. But yet, it's true.

Hallyday is survived by his wife, Laeticia, and their two adopted children, Jade and Joy, son David Hallyday from his first marriage to actress Sylvia Vartan, and daughter Laura Smet from his relationship with actress Nathalie Baye. "He left us tonight as he lived his whole life, with courage and dignity", the statement said.

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Reacting to the news, French president Emmanuel Macron said "there is a little bit of Johnny in all of us".

Global songstress and Billboard Icon Award-winning artist Celine Dion took to Twitter to pay homage to the late singer.

Dubbed the "French Elvis", Hallyday became a hero to France's youth with his music, his style and attitude in the 1950s and 60s much in the same way Elvis Presley, a huge influence of his, had done in the U.S. "He's one of the few singers about whom people say that he's an animal on stage", journalist Philippe Le Corre once said.

Despite his success at home, Hallyday failed to crack the lucrative American or any English-speaking market.

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