(AFP) – Arrival of 150 bikers, first musical notes, fans from far away … The day of tribute to Johnny Hallyday started Tuesday morning in Paris, between two showers, four years after the singer’s death.
“I came especially from Issoire in Auvergne, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world,” Monique Charrade, 53, told AFP among the fans. She will also be at the big evening concert.
Because this day is marked by several highlights. Including the inauguration of the Esplanade Johnny, on the vast forecourt in front of Bercy, with a plaque unveiled in the presence of Laeticia Hallyday, his widow, and Anne Hidalgo, mayor of Paris.
“Johnny would have been so proud” to see his name “anchored forever in the soil of Paris,” said Laeticia Hallyday.
“He was a rock,” “Johnny is still with us,” added Anne Hidalgo. “Our wish was to offer a place in France where all the fans could come and pray without going to the other side of the Atlantic”.
The singer was buried on the island of Saint-Barthélémy, in the West Indies.
“We will finally have a place to meet among fans of Johnny”, rejoices Véronique Berson, shopkeeper in Grandrieu (Lozère). “It deserved to do 600 km, this tribute has been awaited for a long time!”.
A mini concert took place in the morning in front of Bercy with the last five musicians of Johnny Hallyday, including Yarol Poupaud (guitarist) and Yvan Cassar (sound engineer for symphonic albums). They played under a transparent tent, rain obliges.
Some 150 bikers and their motorcycles were also present, some of whom had escorted Johnny’s coffin to the Madeleine on December 9, 2017, for the funeral.
The Parisian hall of Bercy (also called Accor Arena) and its surroundings were not chosen at random: the favorite rocker of the French gave 101 concerts there.
– Bercy Johnny station –
The subway was also on time for Johnny. For one day, the Bercy station was renamed by the RATP Bercy Johnny.
A work by plastic artist Bertrand Lavier entitled “Something …”, an allusion to the famous hit, was unveiled to the public: the statue, 6 meters high, is made up of a pole in the shape of a guitar neck, with at the top a Harley Davidson, which belonged to Johnny.
A “figurative” representation of the star, according to its creator, contested by Parisian environmentalists, but finally approved by the Council of Paris.
The festivities continued in the middle of the day with the inauguration of “Johnny’s Bar”, managed by the Accor Arena and dedicated to the late singer. We can see, among other things, a guitar and a stage costume of the artist lent by Laeticia Hallyday.
And at 9:00 p.m., on the stage of Bercy, the concert “Johnny Hallyday that I love you” will begin, in front of 10,000 fans and live on France 2. Organized by his widow, this show aligns headliners (Florent Pagny, Patrick Bruel, Catherine Ringer, Louis Bertignac, Calogero, Gaëtan Roussel, Patrick Fiori, Julien Doré, etc.)
The taulier’s voice will resonate in the Parisian room with some titles taken from the archives.
Neither David Hallyday nor Laura Smet, Johnny’s first two children, will participate in this party. The eldest singer, “on tour”, apologized. Laura Smet has declined on Instagram according to the widow.
On the eve of the fourth anniversary of the singer’s death (on the night of December 5 to 6), Johnny’s songs continue to live on: the “Act II” of his great titles in a symphonic version has just been released, the first opus s ‘had sold more than 500,000 copies and its titles are successful even on the platforms.
“Johnny, with us, it is more than 10% every year. In January 2018, he had 70,000 followers. In the summer of 2021, 800,000. 47% are between 18-34 years old,” said AFP Nicolas du Roy, editorial director of Spotify.