France to pay 'national homage' to rocker Johnny Hallyday

Paris (AFP) –


France will pay a "national homage" to the legendary rock star Johnny Hallyday with a procession down the Champs Elysees in Paris on Saturday, officials said Thursday.

President Emmanuel Macron will later pay a "brief" tribute to 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".

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.

Television channels cleared their schedules to broadcast tribute shows to the star, who first came to fame in late 1950s yet managed to cleverly adapt to changing musical styles.

Macron led the mourning by declaring that "there is something of Johnny in all of us", promising that he and his wife Brigitte would attend the funeral.