Sunday, 7 December 2008

Oh Johnny!

In the summer of 1971 I turned 13. I was staying with my cousin Francoise and her parents in Sisteron and at weekends at their country home in the village of St. Geniez, Hautes Provence. My parents often left me for a few weeks of our annual 6 week french holiday with cousins as -I guess I was a pretty sullen teenage addition to the family outing - I would join them later in Cannes or they would return for a few days to collect me. Of course we were two young girls, approaching our teens and we would spend our time cycling, running wild in the fields, watching the balotte and petanque players in the town square and cafe and spending the evenings with the local young boys and the girls too!! You see where my early preferences lay and potential trouble. Neighbouring villages each had fetes and dances we attended.

In the evening a solitary antiquity of a loud speaker perched haphazardly high up in an old oak tree and from which popular music was played, some modern some french trad. I remember dancing in the hot evenings outside the cafe (pictured here) with Francoise to pop music and my first introduction to Johnny! It was the song Ma jolie Sara from 1971 that had me hooked and of course he was lovely with it too, blue eyed, blonde, tall broad smile!

Every year after that, my Dad would bring me singles and albums home from his occasional french trips. No one I knew in the Uk had heard of him and in those days we couldn't get the Paris Match in the local newsagent or follow any Internet fan site. These days of course I can.

In France Johnny Hallyday is still the number one french rock n roller. In France the Elvis records were banned in as much as they weren't' licensed to be sold in France in the early years. Johnny Hallyday slipped into the void, this was music senstaion parted the prefered music curtains of Edith Piaf, Charles Aznavour, Mireille Matthieu and Gilbert Becaud and stomped all over them. His music was the first popular music of its kind in the 60's allowing many others to follow in his footsteps, Sheila, Joe Dassin, Claude Francois, which were all startlingly different to the french musical tradition.

Johnny Hallyday is now 63 he has had his share of road accidents, drugs and sex scandals, several wives and children. He recently announced his retirement from touring, with a swansong of concerts next summer. I sooo want to go to one but tickets are selling fast and if I want one I shall be having to pay around £250-300 just for the ticket. I shall see whats what in the new year and perhaps bite the bullet. I shall have to go alone as I still don't know anyone who likes him or his music.

I'm awaiting the UK distribution of his latest London produced CD, I may have to import one, I can hardly wait any longer.

On one of my recent trips to Kent to see my folks, I sat with my Dad and Mum watching one of his latest concert DVDs, my mother sat in apparent agony her face scrunched up at the, 'awful wailing and screeching, he doesn't sing he shouts Saz,' she laughed. Dad and I watched the rest alone while Mum went upstairs. We must have made a funny sight, my 70+ Mum and Dad and me nearing 50, sitting watching an aging botoxed, face lifted and double hip replacement rocker singing and gyrating on stage ! Me I loved it!


  1. What a great post! I think we still enjoy the songs of our youth because it takes us back to our memories of the times. But it is sad to see these guys (and women) all plasticky now. Tom Jones was one of my favourites for - well, ever! - and I see him now and he's so fake. But I saw him live twice and he is SO fantastic in concert. Ah...the good old years! :D

  2. Petanque is such a nice word to say out loud! I liked that.

  3. That made me laugh!
    I was watching a programme on Cliff Richard last night and I still like him! I found myself looking at his wrinkly neck and pulling up my cardi to hide mine!
    Great post!

  4. He certainly looks like the male Joan Collins, but what the heck, he still rocks! Loved reading your memories of those free teenage years.

  5. Darling...I didn't even like Elvis.

    But you and I are both agreed on Johnnie's charisma, and also the fact that he is a terrific actor. I'm only grateful that you did not admire Mick Jagger, and there certainly was something exotic in being the only girl in your school to know and like Johnny Halliday

  6. Do it. Spend the money and have no regrets. If you don't, you'll always kick yourself for not having done so.

    I like the part about nobody else knowing about him. Makes me think of my own experiences in America concerning the Welsh heavy metal group, Budgie :-) I'd pay a pretty penny to see them, but they've been gone for years...

  7. Last summer you could have gone to see him at a festival that is held near us in Brittany. I think he was well reviewed but I must admit to not having the Johnny love

  8. Love the whole exposed chest, big cross necklace thing. Apparently he has quite a following, though I'd never heard of him before. "Que je t'aime" - means, "how I love you"? Right? I don't speak French, but I have a smattering of a lot of common phrases.

    We all age, and it's hard to watch our teen idols age along with us. There's something so gut-wrenching about that. Like Maggie, I find myself covering up my own flaws as I gape at theirs. Cliff Richard - There's a blast from the past!

    Peace - D

  9. I went to a house outside St.Tropez in 1967!
    We went to fetes in various villages nearby. I thought I was in heaven and terrifically sophisticated - you can imagine. Francois Sagan, Alain Delon, Johhny Hailliday
    what bliss it was to be young and in those days very paraphrase Wordsworth.

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Thanks for stopping by!

Take the weight of your feet, draw up a chair and pour yourself a cuppa. Leave your troubles at the door and together we shall ride out the storms.
I will walk a while in your shoes...

Saz x