France says farewell to his idol Johnny Hallyday

News 9 December, 2017
  • AFP


    Saturday, December 9, 2017 06:12

    Saturday, December 9, 2017 06:12

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    PARIS | The funeral procession of the rocker French Johnny Hallyday, followed by hundreds of bikers, began to descend the Champs-Elysées on Saturday in Paris in front of tens of thousands of fans who had come to pay a last tribute to their idol.

    The convoy, cheered on its course by tens of thousands of people taking his songs in choir, went to the church of the Madeleine, where a religious ceremony will take place in the presence of the family of the singer, many artists and political figures, including the president, Emmanuel Macron.

    An impressive crowd had amassed, in the early hours on the route of the procession, some having arrived during the night, as these four Belgian of fifty years who drive, of Jodoigne, near Brussels.

    “We want to pay tribute to Johnny”, told AFP one of them, Claude Broos, a plumber for 55 years. “This is all my life, I listen to it morning, noon and night”, he told.

    Not far away, Johnny and Laetitia Bernard, 36 and 34 years of age, came from the north of France with their 11 year old daughter, Aline. They have not slept all night. “It was important to him to pay a last tribute, with all he brought to us. Of joy, of happiness. He was a wonderful man,” said Johnny, who saw his idol four times in concert.

    It is an exceptional homage to the one that has punctuated their lives in the songs that make her fans from the four corners of France, since Friday, by coach, by car, by train and of course by bike, the vehicle that was fond of to ride the star of 74 years.

    This week at the national Assembly, a member of parliament has compared his disappearance to that of the writer Victor Hugo, whose funeral procession had gone down the Champs-Elysées in 1885, followed by two million people, according to the press of the time.

    “National hero”

    Often misunderstood abroad, Johnny Halliday was a giant of popular culture in France, where he had not as fans, sometimes called “escaped tax”, but essential in the eyes of all.

    “I’ve never met a French person who is unable to cite several songs of Johnny Hallyday”, said Prime minister Edouard Philippe, saluting a figure constitutive of our identity, which in near 60-year career has sold over 100 million records.

    The French president Emmanuel Macron, who has called Johnny of “national hero”, will briefly speak during the ceremony at the Madeleine broadcast on large screens and on tv channels that have changed their programs for the occasion.

    The ex-wife, the singer Sylvie Vartan, her son David Hallyday, his former companion of actress Nathalie Baye and her daughter Laura Smet had already taken place in the church of the Madeleine.

    The musicians of Johnny Hallyday played on the steps of the Madeleine, without a singer. One of them, Alain Lanty, very much affected, told AFP: “I felt like a lot of French a big pain, as when one loses a very dear being.”

    In front of the church, thousands of fans, sometimes in tears, sang the biggest hits of the singer who has imported rock from France.

    “This is the King!”

    “This is the Elvis French, it is the King!”, launched Christmas Way, 50 years, polo hoody branded Johnny, party at 4: 30 in the morning from Caen, 250 km to the west of the French capital, with his wife and son.

    Up to 700 bikers from the whole of France, black armband on the arm, followed the procession. “To accompany, simply,” explained one of them, Thierry Gondoin, AFP TV.

    The City of Paris is associated with the tribute. “Thank you Johnny” displays since Friday evening, the Eiffel Tower, a message repeated on the façade of the hall of Bercy, where he has given many concerts and where were also prepared books of gold.

    Gatherings of bikers were announced in other cities of France so that songs from the star will resonate in all the stadiums of football League 1 and League 2.

    Johnny Hallyday will be buried Monday on the caribbean island of Saint Barthelemy, where he owned a property and that he was so fond of. His remains will leave Sunday morning by a direct flight.

    Some fans were already starting to save for the pilgrimage to go and gather on the grave of their idol.