Macron hails late rocker as ‘a part of France’

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PARIS (AP) Developements on Saturday, Dec. 9, about French rocker Johnny Hallyday’s funeral (all times Central European Standard Time).

  • 1:55 p.m.

French President Emmanuel Macron mourned a “part of France” that departed with the death of rock star Johnny Hallyday, calling him a prodigal son of the nation during the singer’s exceptional funeral ceremony.

Tears rolled down cheeks of Hallyday’s fans thronging the streets of Paris as Macron told them “Johnny was yours. Johnny was his public. Johnny was his country.”

Speaking on the steps of Paris’ Madeleine Church, Macron referred to Hallyday’s illnesses and extreme lifestyle, telling fans, “He should have fallen 100 times but what held him up and lifted him was your fervor, the love that you brought him.”

Mourning the loss of his “indispensable presence,” Macron described how Hallyday’s songs “make us feel less alone.”

Shouts of “Johnny! Johnny!” and thunderous applause rose up as Macron finished his speech. Fans then broke out in Hallyday’s songs. He died Wednesday at age 74.

  • 12:45 p.m.

Calling him France’s equivalent of royalty, fans of rocker Johnny Hallyday have wept and sung to honor a man who was an icon under eight presidents and seemed to many almost eternal.

Catherine Frichot-Janin, 61, and her husband came from Switzerland to join the tens of thousands of Johnny lovers on the frosty streets of Paris watching his funeral procession.

Frichot-Janin told The Associated Press that “he’s the companion who’s always there when you have a worry. He’s not a god but he’s always been there for me.”

Thirty-year-old Parisian Laura Dublot and her brother David are among many who were named after Hallyday’s children.

“He’s a national icon. This scale of funeral is not surprising — he’s united three generations of French,” she said.

“For the French he’s like what Queen Elizabeth is for the English,” said Laurenne Coral from Lyon.

12:00 p.m.

The hearse carrying the coffin of French rocker Johnny Hallyday rolled slowly down the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris in an unusually elaborate ceremony to bid farewell to the man often dubbed the French Elvis.

National television followed the funeral procession past his home in a Paris suburb to Napoleon’s Arc de Triomphe. Dozens of police motorcycles and police vans surrounded the hearse, and fans lined the route, many dressed to emulate his flashy, rebellious style.

Hundreds of motorcyclists are accompanying the procession, in a nod to Hallyday’s lifelong passion for motorcycles and biker image, with his ubiquitous leather jackets and numerous tattoos.

Hallyday’s death after fighting lung cancer unleashed emotion across the French-speaking world.

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