The Star Electricity of Johnny Hallyday (Jimi Hendrix Was His Opening Act)

Tell me about your begin in music.

I was 16 when I made my primary record. I didn’t wish to be a signer. I needed to get an actor, and I visited theater school in Paris, but it are expensive, and the persons who raised me didn’t have much of money. THEREFORE I started participating in rock ’n’ roll at dance clubs on the weekends to cover acting class. And then I started to be a singer.

You said “the persons who raised me.” That could not be your father and mother?

My father left my mom when I was half a year old, and my mom was a model and she couldn’t look after me. So the sister of my father took care of me, and she got a daughter who was a dancer, who was married to an American known as Lee Hallyday. They took me on tour with them. I am Jean-Philippe Smet, but I took Johnny Hallyday because they referred to as me John. I was raised by an American.

Is that as to why you’ve always been drawn to American rock? And do French interpretations of American songs?


Yes. My favorite musicians happen to be American. In the early ’60s, Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent. From then on, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and from then on, Rick James a bit. And Jimi Hendrix.

You understand, he was my opening act for a while. I discovered him in London at a golf club one nights. I was with Otis Redding, and we had been eating at the restaurant of the golf club, and we read that amazing guitar. We visited see who was playing, and it had been Jimi. I was about to get started on a tour in Europe, and I desired an starting act and said, “Do you want to do it?” And he explained, “Yeah.” As a result he toured with me personally for half a year, and we became good friends.

After he did “Hey Joe,” he said, “I’ve a version I’m not using. Would you like it?” I said, “Yeah.” I visited London and recorded “Hey Joe” in French, with Jimi Hendrix participating in acoustic behind. It started to be a No. 1 struck for two months.

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From then on, he became – well, you know about Jimi. He began to take those drugs, and he died. One thing I miss in my own life is certainly Jimi. Jimi was one of my few close friends. I hate prescription drugs for that. Medications take all the good fellows I know.

Perform you like being a star?

No. No, not so much.


Well, because it’s challenging to live a life being a superstar. I was so little when I began. I really feel like I missed my adult male life. Like staying with a woman – being a superstar has spoiled everything. After all, I cannot live a normal life with a woman. A woman who wants to have children. I’d take pleasure in to have a normal life, with a wife and youngsters I could try school, but I don’t understand if I’d have the ability. It’s difficult to look for a woman, 1st. I’m trying, I am hoping before I die I’ll find her.

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