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Monday August 19, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Monday August 19, 2013 MYT 6:32:32 AM
by kim willsher
In France and Quebec, Canada, stars do not come much bigger than Johnny Hallyday, the so-called “French Elvis”.
But the 70-year-old rocker, veteran of more than 180 tours, 70-plus albums – 18 of which went platinum – and 110 million record sales, has never cracked the English-speaking world.
Now the man once billed in Las Vegas, Nevada as “the biggest rock star you’ve never heard of” is hoping to woo Anglophone music fans with an album of duets in what the French refer to as the language of Shakespeare.
“I shall be working on the record in Los Angeles. I’m hoping for duos with Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, Bon Jovi and others,” he told Le Parisien newspaper. “The album is aimed at the United States and England, but it will come out in France too.”
Hallyday’s last album, L’Attente, was released in France last November and has sold 450,000 copies. He splits his time between homes in Paris and LA where he lives with his fourth wife and two adopted Vietnamese daughters.
More a national institution than a star these days, in recent years he has threatened to retire or die.
He has done neither, despite battling colon cancer in 2009 and being put into a three-week medically induced coma after a back operation later the same year.
Last October Hallyday played the first British concerts of his 52-year career. The audience was almost all French, apart from a handful of British music critics.
Shortly after crossing the Channel, Hallyday told the Guardian that he could not understand why the British remained stubbornly resistant to his talents. “I dunno ... maybe because of the language,” he said.
“When I do songs for French people, you have to adapt yourself to their taste. Even if I sing rock ’n’ roll, it’s not exactly what I would do if I was going to do an album for the US or Britain. It’s less variety than for France, less middle-class.” – Guardian News & Media
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