“Merci Johnny” : Throngs Send Off French Rock Icon Hallyday

by Kim Boateng Posted on December 9th, 2017

Paris, France : Hundreds Of thousands in Paris, France, Saturday, bid an emotional farewell to Johnny Hallyday, the country’s biggest rock star for more than half a century. Throngs turned out on the Champs-Elysees in Paris to pay tribute to the French rock-and-roll legend, as a hearse carrying his coffin made its way down the famed avenue.

His body was carried past his home in the west Paris suburb near Versailles to the Arc de Triomphe.

Mourners packed into La Madeleine church to pay their respects to Johnny Hallyday.

France President Emmanuel Macron and Former France Presidents Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande together with their spouses joined the star’s famliy in a funeral service at La Madeleine church in Paris.

French rock royalty, politicians and film stars attended the service.

A line-up of speakers at the service included film stars Marion Cotillard and Jean Reno, and singer Patrick Bruel.

The singer’s band and the church choir alternated songs during the religious ceremony.

About 1,500 police officers secured the funeral cortege route and area around the church.

Football stadiums In France playedg Hallyday’s songs before kick-off on Saturday and “Thank you Johnny” is being displayed on the Eiffel Tower over the weekend.

President Emmanuel Macron’s office announced Hallyday’s death lung cancer early on Wednesday morning, at the age of 74, saying “he brought a part of America into our national pantheon”.

During a career spanning 57 years he completed 181 tours, had 18 platinum albums and sold more than 110 million records worldwide, making him one of the world’s best-selling artists of all time.

Born Jean-Philippe Smet, the singer is expected to be buried in the French Caribbean island of St Barts where he owned a house.

Hallyday remained largely unknown outside the Francophone world, earning him the nickname “the biggest rock star you’ve never heard of” in English-speaking countries.

Hallyday, who is said to have brought rock-and-roll to France, sold over 100 million records in the course of his career and repeatedly packed out concert venues.

The singer, who was suffering from lung cancer, gave his last performance only in July in the southern French town of Carcassonne.

The Eiffel Tower was lit up with the words “Merci Johnny”.

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