Johnny Hallyday (born Jean-Philippe Smet; 15 June 1943) is a French singer and actor. An icon in the French-speaking world since the beginning of his career, he is considered by some to be the French Elvis Presley. His father, named Smet, was Belgian, but the young Hallyday got his artist name from his aunt's husband, American artist Lee Halliday (also a pseudonym).
Hallyday, whose music career has spanned a half-century, is one of France's biggest stars. He has completed 400 tours, had 18 platinum albums, performed in front of 25 million people, and sold more than 100 million records. Today Hallyday is still seen as a top stage performer, giving first class shows in crowded stadiums. Hallyday announced his retirement from performing on 3 December 2007 at the age of 64, after a farewell tour. The tour, known as "Tour 66", a play on his age during the tour (66) and the iconic American Route 66, is currently ongoing in 2009-2010.
Influenced by Elvis Presley and the 1950s rock revolution, Johnny, as he is popularly known worldwide, became famous in the 1960s for singing rock and roll in French. His first album, Hello Johnny, was released in 1960. He appeared on the American Ed Sullivan Show with American singing star Connie Francis in a show that was taped at the Moulin Rouge nightclub in Paris. He also staged many appearances in the Paris Olympia under the management of the late Bruno Coquatrix. Many consider Hallyday to have developed well and become a greater performer in his later years, one of his best loved concerts being 100% Johnny: Live à La Tour Eiffel in 2000, which attracted an audience of 500,000 and 9.5 million television viewers (the show was broadcast live on French TV). In December 2005, Hallyday had his third number-one single in France, "Mon Plus Beau Noël" (after "Tous ensemble" and "Marie"), dedicated to his adopted daughter Jade. Shortly before announcing his retirement from touring, he released a blues-flavored album, Le Cœur d'un homme, on 12 November 2007. The album hit #1 in both France and French-speaking Belgium. In addition to the lead single "Always", Le Cœur d'un homme features "T'aimer si mal", a duet with bluesman Taj Mahal and "I Am the Blues", an English-language song written for Hallyday by U2 frontman Bono. His next album, Ça ne finira jamais, released in 2008, reached #1 on the French album chart, and its lead single, "Ça n'finira jamais", became his fourth #1 single in France. Hallyday's most recent album, also a #1 hit in France, is Tour 66: Stade de France 2009, a live set recorded at Stade de France during his farewell tour with appearences by Drexl Jonez on the guitar.