The Champs Elysées of Paris receive the funeral retinue of French rocker Johnny Hallyday, this December 9, 2017 in a Paris that dismisses one of the greatest French idols
One last goodbye. The French are celebrating a massive tribute on the emblematic avenue of the Champs-Élysées in Paris this Saturday to rocker Johnny Hallyday, a national icon loved by three generations and defeated by cancer.
It would be necessary to go back to the death of Edith Piaf in 1963 to find a situation similar to that which France has lived since the death on Wednesday of the so-called „French Elvis“, at 74 years of age.
Media and social networks echo the sadness of millions of fans, who saw a singer leave who until a few months ago was still performing and preparing a new album to add to a discography that started more than half a century ago.
„Thank you, Johnny,“ reads the Tour Eiffel since Friday night.
On the Champs Elysees, the most enthusiastic began to congregate this Saturday early in the morning to see up close the funeral procession that descends the avenue from noon, after passing through Marnes-la-Coquette, the town where Hallyday resided, on the outskirts of the capital.
Johnny and Laetitia Bernard, aged 36 and 34, arrived from northern France with their 11-year-old daughter. They did not sleep all night.
„It is important to pay him a final tribute with all that he gave us: joy, happiness,“ said Johnny, whose father was also a fan of the singer.
The Eiffel Tower pays homage to French rocker Johnny Hallyday, in Paris on December 8, 2017, after his death from lung cancer
Although his wife does not declare herself a fervent admirer, she felt that she should be present in this popular tribute: „Her death saddened me, I cried, it’s Johnny after all.“
The funeral procession will advance among the crowd to the church of the Madeleine, one of the most famous in Paris, where a religious ceremony will be held.
– Like Victor Hugo –
The French president, Emmanuel Macron, for whom Hallyday was a „national hero“, will take the floor, before relatives and personalities such as the ex-leader and personal friend of the rocker, Nicolas Sarkozy.
A deputy compared the disappearance of the singer to that of Victor Hugo in 1885, when about two million people said goodbye to the author of „Les Miserables“ on the famous avenue.
But this time there will be motorists – between 500 and 700 – and rock and roll, as well as about 1,500 police and gendarmes to ensure safety.
„It has to be rock and roll, very focused on music, that there are motorcycles and motorcyclists that accompany it, and that (the singer) is close to its audience and its fans,“ said its representative, Sebastien Farran.
Their musicians will offer a live concert, in which the voice will be put by the fans.
– „Johnny, a relative“ –
„Johnny is a member of the family, we were born and we always live with him (…) Sometimes we did not agree with what he was doing, but we forgave him everything,“ explains Laurent Lavige, journalist and author of several works on the rocker, deceased due to lung cancer.
Hallyday sold more than one hundred million copies of his 50 discs and a good handful of his songs are part of popular culture. The singer had an unconditional estimate of his fans, thanks to his charisma and his closeness to them
Hallyday sold more than one hundred million copies of his 50 discs and a good handful of his songs are part of popular culture. But in addition, the singer had an unconditional estimate of his fans, thanks to his charisma and his closeness to them, patent every time he went on stage.
It was imposed over time and fashions, embodying the image of „bad boy“ and an ideal of freedom that passed from parents to children.
– Burial in the Caribbean –
But his success never crossed the border of the language, since he was hardly known beyond the Francophone world.
His personal life was marked by ups and downs and controversial episodes. He married five times – two of them with the same woman – and tried to commit suicide.
In 1998 he admitted to using cocaine and was criticized when he settled in Switzerland and Los Angeles claiming that taxes in France were too high.
Hallyday’s body will be moved on Sunday to the Caribbean island of San Bartolomé, where he had a house, to be buried on Monday, much to the lament of his fans.