French-Elvis rock icon Johnny Hallyday dies aged 74

Johnny Hallyday

According to an official statement from his wife Laeticia, his family still can not believe that he is no longer with us.

Speculation is rife that Hallyday, who survived a tough childhood after being abandoned by his alcoholic father, will be given a full state funeral, complete with a procession down the Champs Elysees, the grand ceremonial avenue of the French capital - an honour usually reserved for France's greatest heroes.

"We all have a piece of Johnny Hallyday inside every one of us".

The music star who has sold more than 110 million records during his career had been battling lung cancer.

Musician Brian Ray said Hallyday was a "fearless performer" who "will be missed by millions".

Johnny, as he was known, was born in Nazi-occupied Paris on June 15, 1943, with the decidedly unhip name of Jean-Philippe Leo Smet.

During his life, Hallyday's repertoire evolved and become more eclectic.

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But even with his gravelly voice, good looks and piercing blue eyes he never managed to break into the lucrative United Kingdom and U.S. music markets. His capacity to sing a wide variety of music genre is often cited as one of the reasons for his tremendous popularity in France. A large number of his recordings were French adaptations of English-language songs.

French singer Johnny Hallyday performs on stage on March 26, 2016 at the beginning of his concert in Brussels.

His career took off the following year, when a concert at the newly built Palais des Sports ended in a riot of leather-jacketed fans, terrifying cultural critics who thought Mr. Hallyday was a negative influence on the country's youth.

Fans came soon after, bundled against the December cold to pay tribute and share memories of France's biggest rock star.

Celine Dion wrote: "I'm very sad to hear the news that Johnny Hallyday passed away".

"He was a giant in show business", she said.

Hallyday had long suffered from lung cancer and had repeated health scares as of late, which dominated national news.

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