Five years after his death, Johnny Hallyday remains a timeless icon. Adored by his followers since his debut, admired by those who discover him, never has a celebrity aroused so much enthusiasm. But, this popularity sometimes seemed to overtake the French star with Belgian origins.
In her biography Johnny, la Belgique dans le sang, published by Éditions Harper Collins last October, author and RTL-TVI journalist Amélie Schildt explains that “Hallyday never liked look-alikes”. A certain enthusiasm of the fans for their idols (like Claude François or Michel Polnareff) which surprised the rocker. “After fifty years of career, Johnny still does not understand. That we can be a fan, okay. He was one younger”, writes the biographer on the artist, himself a fan of James Dean and Elvis Presley.
“But admiring an artist to the point of wanting to look like him… it escapes him. It even bothers him”. For Planet, the journalist Amélie Schildt justifies this statement. “Johnny was always a little uncomfortable with the fact that people wanted to look like him. It confused him, he didn’t understand”.
Often copied, never equaled, Johnny Hallyday cultivated a cult among fans who admired him to the point of wanting to look like him from head to toe. In her book, the Taulier specialist reveals a funny anecdote about the husband of Laeticia Hallyday during his stay in Belgium at RTL-TVI. “A reckless colleague, however, manages to infiltrate a friend of his, lookalike of the star who is obviously a little drunk. He manages to place him in the way of the singer, just before the latter enters the big TV studio. Johnny remains polite, as always. But the initiative will have been little appreciated“, she revealed in her book, before reassuring us. “The person has not yet been dismissed or exfiltrated”.
This did not prevent Johnny Hallyday from forging a strong and indescribable bond with his audience, in the same way as his look-alikes. “However, the kindness of the man is such that each imitator who crossed his path was entitled to a friendly word, a little phrase of encouragement. Never denigration”, writes the journalist in her book. A way for him to ensure his closeness with them. “He even sometimes received some front row fans in the boxes. Even if the fan had the same look as him, there was no disdain or rejection”.
For author Amélie Schildt, there are two types of lookalikes: those who do it for fun and others who make it a real side business. “Like a famous look-alike, Johnny Cadillac. He has his little success on the networks,” she notes. “There are Johnny Cadillac fans as there are Johnny Hallyday fans. It was impressive, I always had trouble understanding”, explains the one who does not spare Jean-Baptiste Guégan, her vocal double in his book. “This is one of the reasons why Laeticia has distanced herself from him”. A biography to (re)discover for fans of Johnny during this month of tribute.