French rock star Johnny Hallyday dies, aged 74

He was known as the 'French Elvis'

French rock star Johnny Hallyday has died, aged 74.

The singer, who was born Jean-Philippe Smet and known as the ‘French Elvis’, sold over 110m albums over a 50+ year career. While he was less well-known outside of French-speaking territories, Hallyday was an icon of French music, introducing the country to rock ‘n’ roll in the 1960s.

“Johnny Hallyday has left us. I write these words without believing them. But yet, it’s true. My man is no longer with us,” his wife Laeticia Hallyday said in a statement on Wednesday. “He left us tonight as he lived his whole life, with courage and dignity.” He had been suffering from lung cancer.

Minutes after the announcement, the French presidency issued a statement, which reads: “There is something of Johnny in all of us.”

Hallyday leaves behind his wife and two daughters.