Calling all Anglophones: you may not have heard of the name, or the music, but Mr Johnny Hallyday is the symbol of a musical evolution. Calling all Francophones: I hear your ‘pffft’ when it comes to this name, but just you wait, this blog may change that…
A musician who has sold over 110 million records, traversed the genres of rock ‘n’ roll, blues and country yet has never stepped foot on British soil. The top crops of the French crowd cheer whilst the young ones groan. What additives have destroyed the flavourings of J. Hallyday?
« Hey Joe, Pourquoi t'as de la chance plein les doigts ? »
So it all started with the Twist : the move which banned Elvis from television but introduced the idea of ‘new’ music to France (why you only have to listen to ‘M6 music’ and STILL find Mika at number 3.) Originally named, Jean-Philippe Smet (1943-present) did a ‘Stars in their eyes’ transformation to Johnny Hallyday and made himself the monopoly man of music, (not even arch-rival Cloclo could squeeze in a Nabout twist). After the bout of rock ‘n’ roll, by deciding noir c’est noir, he chopped off the roll and kept the rock. A string of ballads then came forward, including my first ever cassette:
« Quand revient la nuit, Tout seul je m'ennuie »
What came after was a shake of poetry (but not as we know it ) a sprinkle of blues, and a hint of country (again, adapted ‘Johnny’ style ). “So what? A musician who had a great career…let it be Mélissa!” I hear you shout. However, if we shun Hallyday, we shun a whole lot of memories, historial events and cheesy cassettes. I’m not suggesting we bring back the awful dress sense of John Travolta’s Grease Lightning, but perhaps give a bit of credit to the guy who hit the fast forward button on the French music scene.
I leave you with a clip which will satisfy all ages, from the ‘Kanye West’ remix to the cool cats who are in the know…