French Singer And Motorcyclist Johnny Hallyday Mourned By Thousands In Paris

“French Elvis” dies from lung cancer at age 74

johnny hallyday riding his motorcycle
French icon Johnny Hallyday was born Jean-Philippe Smet in Paris in 1943.Photo: Johnny Hallyday archives

Born Jean-Philippe Smet in Paris and better known as Johnny Hallyday, the man credited as bringing rock and roll to France died of lung cancer shortly before 3 a.m. on December 6, 2017 at the age of 74. Hallyday was an avid motorcyclist, frequently taking long trips on his Harley through the California desert from his home in Los Angeles.

Hallyday was often referred to as “the French Elvis” and sold more than 110 million albums in his nearly 60-year career. He also appeared in 16 films.

johnny hallyday performing on stage
Hallyday toured right up until the end of his life.Photo: Johnny Hallyday Archives

His funeral was held in Paris on December 9, where nearly 1 million mourners and fans lined the Champs-Élysées as his body was taken to the Madeleine Church. Nearly 1,000 motorcyclists were part of the funeral procession.

VIDEO: Motorbikes accompany Johnny Hallyday funeral cortege down Champs Elysees

French President Emmanuel Macron paid tribute, saying Hallyday “transcended generations and is etched in the memory of the French people.” Hallyday will be buried on the French Caribbean island of Saint Barthélemy.