French singer and actor Johnny Hallyday died after a battle with lung cancer in Paris, France on December 6, 2017. He was 74. Born Jean-Philippe Léo Smet on June 15, 1943 in the Paris suburb of Malesherbes, he was known as the “French Elvis” for his massively popular recordings and acting career. Widely credited as the first French star to popularize early rock ‘n roll in France, Halladay sold more than 110 million records over his 50-year career. He sang French-language covers of American pop, starting with his 1960 debut album. His appearances soon set off near-riots, and his popularity paved the way for American rock acts to break into the French market. Hallyday reportedly gave the Jimi Hendrix Experience its first France performance, opening for him at the Paris Olympia in October, 1966. Hallyday appeared in one Euro-western: as Hud in Sergio Corbucci’s 1969 “Gli specialist” (Drop Them or I'll Shoot).
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