Death of 'French Elvis' sends country into mourning

"THE whole country is in mourning."

Those were the words of French President Emmanuel Macron as he announced the death of the beloved 'French Elvis' - Johnny Hallyday.

The 74-year-old rocker, who was influenced by the likes of Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry, dominated French music for more than half a century and was a favourite across generations.

However, Hallyday, who was born Jean-Philippe Smet, had lung cancer and endured multiple health scares culminating in the news that sent a nation into mourning.

"We all have something of Johnny Hallyday in us," Mr Macron said in a statement.

"A sincerity and authenticity that kept alive the flame that he ignited in the public's heart."

The President spoke with Hallyday's family but didn't reveal where, or how, the musician died.

The Elvis-inspired Hallyday thrust himself into the limelight with his provocative onstage moves and rhythmic music.

He performed with the likes of Jimi Hendrix, sold more than 100 million records and was married to his fourth wife by future President Nicolas Sarkozy.

But despite his American influences, even recording an album in Nashville, his fame largely stayed within the borders of the French-speaking world.

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