Johnny Hallyday, the French rock icon and occasional actor, has died from lung cancer. Agence France Presse reports that the performer has been battling lung cancer for some time now.
President Emmanuel Macron's office announced his death in a statement early Wednesday, saying "he brought a part of America into our national pantheon".
Hallyday's covers instantly proved a successful way for American rock "n" roll to infiltrate its way into France.
Defying the view that France, then a land of crooners and jazz, could not rock, Hally-day had his big break with the 1960 hit "T'aimer Follement" ("Makin' Love") and later belted out French versions of songs such as Jimi Hendrix's "Hey Joe".
In later years he was clever enough to sustain his popularity and increase his cross-generational appeal by moving into emotive balladry in a career trajectory similar to that of Presley. Many of his first hits were simply re-recordings of USA and British songs with French lyrics. Sarkozy called the Hallyday family during an European Union summit and giving updates on the singer's condition during news conferences.
During his career he recorded more than 1000 songs - 100 of which he wrote himself.
French singer Johnny Hallyday performs on the stage of Bercy on September 29, 2006 in Paris.
The man considered to be the French Elvis, who was the first Gallic singer to popularise rock'n'roll in the land of baguettes and fromage, has died.
The role was hardly a stretch, but his performance went down well with Hallyday's fans.
In 1998 he admitted taking cocaine and said he had suffered a hard childhood with an alcoholic father who first abandoned the family when Johnny was just 8 months old.
With his square-jawed good looks and piercing blue eyes, Hallyday was often sought-out for the cinema, playing in French director Jean-Luc Godard's "Detective" (1984) and with other illustrious directors including Costa-Gavras.
He appeared in "The Pink Panther 2", with Steve Martin, in 2009, and starred in the Johnnie To-directed crime thriller "Vengeance" the same year.