It really is lazy to describe Johnny Hallyday as ‘The French Elvis’. But I will not apologise for it, and I will continue to do it, most probably for the duration of this Theme Week.
Despite every instinct in my body and mind (and ears), I love Johnny Hallyday. I love what he represents to France, I love the love France has for him (apart from when he decides to live in Switzerland and stops paying taxes to the Elysée), and I love his style.
Here we see him in an authentically flickery 1960 clip, playing “Souvenirs, Souvenirs”, his second single and his first big hit. A fairly straightfoward early rock and roll love song (which reminds me of the Ren and Stimpy theme tune towards the end of its middle eight), it’s worth noting his confident gestures towards the (unseen) audience, his very Elvis-esque hip-swaying, and also the on-screen graphics’ mis-spelling of his name. This seems apt, as legend has it he went by the name of Johnny Hollyday until a promoter inadvertently gave him what would be his final pseudonym on a bill poster even earlier in his career.