This section tells you more about famous French artists: singers, actors, writers, poets or painters.

Do you like rock music ? Do you know Johnny Hallyday ?

He never cracked the US and few outside the French-speaking world have heard of him, but at home rocker Johnny Hallyday is a national treasure whose 70th birthday on Saturday 15 June will be celebrated in front of 20,000 adoring fans.Tickets for …the concert, due to be broadcast live on national television, sold out in less than two hours. A second smaller concert scheduled for later the same day attracted 50,000 applications for just 800 seats.Such is his popularity that the ups and downs of Hallyday’s life have become a national saga with acres of newsprint dedicated down the years to everything from his marriages and numerous health scares to his tax arrangements and oft-postponed retirement plans.Often compared to Elvis Presley, Hallyday has sold over 110 million records and played live to tens of millions over a five-decade-long career, but international success has largely eluded him.One of his early concerts is famed for attracting 100,000 young people to a Paris square in 1963 with scenes of hysteria similar to the Beatlemania across the English channel at the same time.French music journalist Bertrand Dicale described Hallyday as “ridiculous but sublime” and said his enduring appeal lay in his uniquely French identity.

“Every country has a Johnny Hallyday. Johnny is the embodiment of something essentially French. He represents our way of looking at life,” he told AFP.

“He is the embodiment not of rock ‘n’ roll but of France’s idea of rock ‘n’ roll. He is rock ‘n’ roll combined with traditional French variety entertainment and whatever the melody, whatever the rhythm, whatever the lyrics, it’s always very French,” he added.

Saturday’s second concert will be something of a homecoming for Hallyday. The Paris theatre where he will go on stage late on Saturday night is just a few streets from where he was born Jean-Philippe Smet on June 15, 1943.