Johnny Hallyday: biography and latest news!

    Johnny Hallyday © Veeren Ramsamy-Christophe Clovis
    Johnny Hallyday © Veeren Ramsamy-Christophe Clovis

  • Occupation: singer, actor
  • Real name: Jean-Philippe Smet
  • Sign: Gemini
  • Date of birth: Tuesday 15 June 1943 (age: 74)
  • Date of death : Tuesday 05 December 2017
  • Country : France

Jean-Philippe Smet, whose real name is Jean-Philippe Smet, was born on 15 June 1943 in the 9th arrondissement of Paris. The only son of Léon Smet and Huguette Clerc, he was very young when his parents separated. His mother, a model-cabin, entrusted him to her paternal aunt who raised him with her two daughters, Desta and Menen. His childhood was marked by numerous trips throughout Europe, with his cousins, dancers, who performed in shows. Desta married an American dancer, Lee Halliday, who became a father figure for the little boy and nicknamed him Johnny. Caught up in the family’s artistic fibre, he takes acting lessons, plays the violin and then the guitar. In 1956, he took to the stage for the first time and opened for Desta and Lee Halliday in Copenhagen.

Back in Paris, the teenager found his way at the age of 14 when he discovered a new musical trend embodied by Elvis Presley. Signed by the Vogue record company in 1960, he released a single, T’aimer follement, under the pseudonym Johnny Hallyday. He soon unleashed hysteria during his trademark stage performances. With the album Salut les copains, he became the emblematic singer of the yéyé period. In 1963, the song L’idole des jeunes became a hit. Then he put his career on hold to do his military service in Germany. His return was marked by a new artistic collaboration, that of Long Chris and the release of his second album Johnny chante Hallyday. The singer performed a series of concerts at a frenetic pace and had a few problems with the tax authorities. On September 10, 1966, he made a suicide attempt. This event will inspire the song Noir, c’est noir which is again a hit.

During the 1970s, Johnny Hallyday wanted to diversify and vary the registers. He collaborated with Philippe Labro, who wrote more committed lyrics for him and signed two albums, Vie et Flagrant délit. Then, the singer embarked on a new adventure with the Johnny Circus, a show organised under big tops with jugglers and musicians, but it was a commercial failure. Johnny then releases a country music album, Country Folk Rock. In 1973, he sang a duet with Sylvie Vartan, J’ai un problème, which became the hit of the summer. In 1975, he recorded Rock in Memphis and then went into exile in the United States with his family for a few months. But he came back to the forefront in 1976. At the end of the 70s, albums and concerts followed one another but the singer did not return to the enormous success of his previous albums.

In the 80s, he met Michel Berger who wrote the album Rock’n’Roll Attitude (Something from Tennesse, Abandoned Singer) which met with great success. Then Jean-Jacques Goldman wrote him the album Gang, which included L’envie, Je te promets, ou Laura which were all successful and contributed to give a new image of the singer. The artist multiplies collaborations, participates in the Restos du coeur, and produces increasingly spectacular shows. At the end of the 80’s, the show Dans la chaleur de Bercy won a Victoire de la musique for Best Musical Performance.

In the 90’s, he celebrates his fiftieth birthday on stage on June 15, 1993 at the Parc des Princes. Numerous artists approached him and wanted to work with him, notably Pascal Obispo who produced the album Ce que je suis with the hit Allumer le feu. In 1999, it was a huge success with the album Sang pour sang, written by David Hallyday. In 2005, he released his latest album with his record company Universal, Ma vérité, which ended more than forty years of collaboration. At the end of the same year, he joined the Warner record company and published Le coeur d’un homme under this new label. In May 2009, Johnny Hallyday embarked on a new tour called Tour 66.

The tour was interrupted in July 2009 following the singer’s hospitalisation and surgery. In September, he resumed his tour, before being hospitalized again at the end of November 2009 for a herniated disc. In December 2009, in Los Angeles, he was rushed to the Cedars-Sinai hospital following complications and was in a coma for several days. The singer recovered after a long convalescence which prompted him to reduce the pace of his concerts.

In September 2010, he announced that he had changed producers and was now working with Gilbert Coullier. For his comeback, the singer collaborates with Matthieu Chedid (Jamais seul en 2011) and Christophe Miossec (L’attente en 2013). In 2013, he published his autobiography Dans mes yeux, with the writer Amanda Ethers. In 2014, he seals his reunion with Eddy Mitchell and Jacques Dutronc for the show Les Vieilles canailles. He continues his tours and releases several albums, Rester vivant (2014) and De l’amour (2015), notably directed by Yodelice. In January 2016, he hit the road again for a new tour, Rester Vivant Tour, which starts in Montpellier. The live album was released in October 2016.

At the same time, Johnny Hallyday has made numerous forays into cinema; L’Aventure c’est l’aventure (1972), Détective (1985), L’homme du train (2003), Vengeance (2009), Salaud, on t’aime (2014), and Chacun sa vie (2017). In 2011, he will play for the first time in the theatre, in a play by Tennessee Williams, Le Paradis sur terre, alongside Audrey Dana.

In March 2017, the singer announces on social networks that he is suffering from cancer. In June 2017, he nevertheless joined the Vieilles Canailles tour alongside Eddy Mitchell and Jacques Dutronc.

On the private side, in April 1965, Johnny married another figure of the yéyé period, Sylvie Vartan, in Loconville. She gave him a son, David, on August 14, 1966. After several years of marriage and artistic collaboration, Johnny Hallyday and Sylvie Vartan divorced in 1980. The singer then met the actress Nathalie Baye, with whom he has a daughter, Laura, born in November 1983. But the couple split up in 1986. Johnny Hallyday met the actress Adeline Blondiau twice (1990 and 1994), before finding love again on the arm of Laeticia Boudou, thirty years his junior. They married on March 25, 1996 and adopted two little girls of Vietnamese origin, Jade (born August 3, 2004) and Joy (born July 27, 2008).

On 5 December 2017, Johnny Hallyday died at the age of 74 at his home in Marnes-la-Coquette. On 9 December 2017, a religious ceremony is held at La Madeleine in Paris. Two days later, on the 11th, the singer was buried in the Lorient cemetery on the island of Saint-Barthélémy. His posthumous album, Mon pays c’est l’amour, was released on 19 October 2018.