Robb Johnson, singer-songwriter, concludes his in-depth appreciation of Johnny Hallyday with a passionate and powerful defence of that much-derided form: French popular music....
When Edith Piaf died, for two days the people of France filed past her coffin, which was draped with the French flag. When she was buried in Père Lachaise cemetery on October 14, 1963 it was estimated two million people lined the streets of Paris to pay their respects.
The relationship between France and its singers has very particular, very affectionate and very interdependent qualities that I don’t think you find anywhere else.
There is also a durability about these qualities. Looking for UK equivalents, Marie Lloyd’s death evoked a similar mass observance, but that was several decades earlier, Lennon’s death was both very different and also an international phenomenon and Lady Di never had any hit records.
And there's an intimacy that is perhaps partly related to the reasons Johnny remains largely unappreciated outside the French speaking world: the shared intimacy of a separate shared language.