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France to pay 'national homage' to rocker Johnny Hallyday

France to pay 'national homage' to rocker Johnny Hallyday


AFP
Paris
France will pay a"national homage" to the legendary rock star Johnny Hallyday with a procession down the Champs Elysees in Paris tomorrow, officials said on Thursday.
President Emmanuel Macron will later pay a"brief" tribute to the singer at his funeral at the grandiose Madeleine church in the centre of the French capital.
The announcement came as speculation mounted that the singer, known as the French Elvis, would be given a state funeral, an honour usually reserved for France's greatest heroes.
But the French presidency stopped short of that, instead granting Hallyday, 74, who lost his long battle with lung cancer on Wednesday, a new kind of ceremony it dubbed a"popular homage".
Paris transport bosses had earlier renamed a Metro station after Hallyday, whose death has plunged France into mourning.
The RATP transport authority temporarily changed the name of the Duroc station, near the Invalides where Napoleon is buried, to"DuRock Johnny".
The Eiffel Tower will also be lit up over the weekend with the message,"Merci Johnny" (Thank you Johnny), said Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo.
Adored by young and old, hard-living Hallyday was almost a national monument, selling more than 110 million records despite being almost unknown outside the French-speaking world.
Fans will now be able to throng the Champs Elysees to bid a final farewell to their hero as his cortege passes down the grand ceremonial avenue from the Arc de Triomphe.
"Johnny Hallyday's musicians will accompany him musically" on his final journey, said a statement from the French presidency, without specifying what that would be.
"The family and friends of Johnny Hallyday and the President have agreed that as a part of the popular homage, his funeral cortege will leave from the Arc de Triomphe and go down the Champs Elysees" before continuing to the religious ceremony at Madeleine, the statement added.
Hallyday is likely to be buried later in Saint Barts, the French Caribbean island where he had a home, its leader Bruno Magras told AFP Thursday.
He said the singer"told me several times he wanted to be buried in Saint Barts. Discussions are going on with the family," he added.
French television channels cleared their schedules to broadcast tribute shows to Hallyday after Macron confirmed the star's passing on Wednesday, declaring that"there is something of Johnny in all of us".
Hallyday first came to fame in the late 1950s yet remained a colossus in French popular culture by adapting to ever-changing musical tastes.

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