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Thousands Mourn Rock Star Hallyday in Paris

Thousands Mourn Rock Star Hallyday in Paris

Saturday, 9 December, 2017 - 13:15
French rock star Johnny Hallyday's widow Laetitia, left, hugs Hallyday's daughter Laura Smet while his son David Hallyday react during Johnny Hallyday's funeral ceremony at La Madeleine church for Johnny Hallyday's funeral ceremony in Paris, Saturday, Dec.9, 2017.

Thousands of people lined the streets of Paris on Saturday to be part of the exceptional funeral of late French rock and roll star Johnny Hallyday that embraced a presidential speech and a parade of motorcyclists.

French stars and politicians attended the funeral all under intense security. About 1,500 police officers secured the area, a helicopter surveyed the scene and emergency vehicles filled nearby streets.

"Johnny was yours. Johnny was his public. Johnny was his country," French President Emmanuel Macron told fans massed in central Paris.

"He should have fallen 100 times but what held him up and lifted him was your fervor, the love that you brought him," Macron added.

“The French Elvis,” as he was known, Hallyday made a name for himself with French versions of American rock and pop songs, including “House of the Rising Sun”, which many French people only know as “Le Pénitencier.”

As his band played instrumental versions of his biggest hits, the crowds belted out the words, Reuters reported.

Hallyday passed away Wednesday at age 74 after fighting lung cancer.

The words "Thank you Johnny" are being displayed on the Eiffel Tower over the weekend, and soccer stadiums are playing Hallyday's songs before kickoff, according to AP.

Hallyday, born Jean-Philippe Smet, is expected to be buried in the French Caribbean island of St. Barts.

Johnny is survived by his wife Laeticia, his two former wives, four children and three grandchildren.

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