Johnny R.I.P.

Johnny Hallyday Côte_d'Azur_040085

Suedwester93 via Wikimedia Commons

It seems impossible that Johnny Hallyday lost his long battle with cancer this morning. There was always a worldwide tour coming up, or a new record or film to look forward to, one more reinvention of self to anticipate. Sadly, the man who introduced France to rock ’n’ roll will not be making another appearance.

There were solitary mourners among the crowd gathered this morning at Marne-La-Coquette, but there were also friends who had seen him in concert together. I was soulagée to receive a text from Claire about a moment we shared over 15 years ago. The restaurant on 14th Street in New York City was lively and so was our bartender, who could have been Laura Smet’s sosie.

It seemed that Johnny’s daughter with Nathalie Baye was not only alive and well, she was serving us very good drinks that night.

Our conversation was my introduction to a Johnny I’d known only because of his stunning performance in L’homme du train.

How was I to know that I would become a late-blooming uberfan after reading my copy of Destroy, a Johnny autobiography that Claire brought back from France? Two Los Angeles concerts later and L’Idole des jeunes had a fervent follower who was anything but young.

Alexis Brézet is right, of course. Born of a Belgian father*, Johnny had a special place in his heart for America, but he was French through and through, much as we wanted to claim him. Hear this though, Alexis. Johnny had and has some diehard fans in New York and LA. He may have changed worlds, but he won’t be forgotten in this one.

Johnny Hallyday — Beacon Theater 2012

Rufus via Wikimedia Commons

— Linda and Claire

*When I first heard about Johnny’s death, I rushed to write this piece. In my haste, I originally referred to him as “Belgian-born.” Big blooper. His father was Belgian, but Johnny was born in Paris. My apologies.

— Linda

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Acknowledgements: Suedwester93, Rufus via Wikimedia Commons
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