French rock star Johnny Hallyday is dead at 74

French singer Johnny Hallyday
Credit
Jacques Brinon /AP

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.

The French rock star and actor Johnny Hallyday has died aged 74, according Agence France Presse.

Laeticia Hallyday, the wife of the singer, was quoted by local media as saying, "Johnny Hallyday has left us". I write these words without believing them.

Hallyday's wife Laeticia Hallyday said he died at a Paris hospital due to respiratory difficulties after undergoing treatments for lung cancer.

Born Jean-Philippe Smet in Paris on June 15, 1943, he borrowed the name of cousin's American boyfriend, Lee Halliday, when he chose to begin his rock career after discovering Elvis as a teenager.

Hallyday also achieved fame through a modest film career, playing in French director Jean-Luc Godard's "Detective" (1984) and with other illustrious directors including Costa-Gavras.

The music star who has sold more than 110 million records during his career had been battling lung cancer. "When the good days of rock "n" roll were over, the public could have abandoned him but a new life for him began".

Often described as the French Elvis, Hallyday was known for his deep voice, glittering outfits and spectacular live shows. In 1997, Hallyday was made a Chevalier of the Legion D'Honneur.

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