(VIP-NEWS) — Johnny Hallyday, the pompadoured, hip-swiveling rocker known as the “French Elvis” died on Dec. 6 at age 74.
Hallyday was reportedly hospitalized on Nov. 17 at a Paris hospital due to respiratory difficulties and had been undergoing lung cancer treatments.
Rising to prominence with his first release in 1959, Hallyday was best known for his French-language covers of early rock hits and a deep catalog of originals released on dozens of albums on a variety of major and indie labels from the early 1960s through 2015.
The singer continued to perform well into his retirement years, thrilling crowds with his dark, gravely voice and unmistakable charisma, which made him a huge star in France and other French-speaking countries, filling arenas and stadiums well into his 60s; he was reportedly working on a new album and planning a tour at the time of his death. Though he was little-known outside of Europe, Hallyday rocked stages as long as some of his more well-established contemporaries, such as fellow 74-year-old Mick Jagger, reportedly selling more than 80 million albums and scoring a dozen platinum albums in his home country.
A big part of his appeal was a true rock n` roll spirit, which extended to the usual litany of rock star problems: drugs, taxes, fast cars and motorbikes and a string of high-profile, dramatic romances. Hallyday was born Jean-Phillippe Smet on June 15, 1943, in Paris` Malesherbes neighborhood, the son of Belgian parents who separated just months after his birth. He grew up under the watchful eye of his aunt, Hélène Mar, a former silent film actress, as well as two dancer cousins who took him on the road during his childhood.