Johnny Hallyday: the moving confessions of his “brother”


Ceremony for the 75th birthday of Johnny Hallyday at the Madeleine church will begin this Friday morning, around 11 am, with a speech by his cousin Michael Ketcham Halliday. Halliday with an i, as the artist name of Jean-Philippe Smet’s adoptive father, Lee Halliday. Ketcham as the real name of his father. On the eve of the ceremony and mass that will bring together several hundred fans in Paris, this entrepreneur, 56 years old, remained in the shadows, tells his life with and without the one he considered his “big brother”. What is your relationship with Johnny? MICHAEL KETCHAM HALLIDAY. I am the son of Lee Halliday and Desta, the grandson of Helen Mar, who raised Johnny. When Léon Smet left, Huguette Clerc had a difficult time and asked my grandmother, Johnny’s paternal aunt, to take care of him. She was convinced: “This child will have a destiny. I’m twenty years younger than Johnny. He considered me as his little brother. And for me, it was a big brother. His artist name comes from your parents … They had an acrobatic dance duo, The Hallidays. It was the name, in Oklahoma, where my father was born, of a lucky doctor. When my father had the idea of ​​Americanizing Johnny’s name, he turned John into Johnny and Smet into Halliday. There is a typo on his first contract that my father told him to keep: “It will make your difference. ” They took him on tour at what age? Around 10-12 years old. They transmitted to him the love of the stage, of the show, and the sense of work, of the gift of oneself for one’s audience. In ten years of intensive preparation, they have made him a complete artist, singer, guitarist, dancer … Moreover, the last time my father saw Johnny, during his concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London in 2012 my father was impressed by his energy and told him. Johnny replied, “It’s because I was raised by a dancer. Johnny was the tailor, but in the family, it’s my father’s boss. Adult, did you live with Johnny? At the end of the 80s. his weddings with Nathalie Baye and Adeline Blondieau he hosted me at his house, Villa Molitor, in Paris. He was preparing the album “Cadillac” with Étienne Roda-Gil. At the weekend, Laura was passing, I was taking care of her. Johnny worked a lot, I always saw him working. But we were both single and we made the 400 shots, we drove at 200 per hour per night in Paris. Johnny made me taste the pleasures of life, he spoiled me a lot, my first guitar, on which had been composed “Brand New Cadillac”, my first bike … But he also knew how to make me shout when I was not up to it. You were at the Madeleine during the funeral … Of course. That’s exactly what he wanted, what he dreamed about, it was a magnificent ceremony . All his fans, his musicians, who played for him in the church, who put their picks on the coffin, Maxim Nucci who cried, who took him in his arms to appease him, it was a grace infinite. The tension was palpable in the church, it’s true. But I do not want to talk about clans, we are a family. What image do you remember of Johnny? I see myself as a kid during his concerts. When he screamed on his knees, with my child’s ears, I heard him shout “Daddy, mom, pity, help me, I’m in pain.” On stage, I heard her pain, her loneliness, her fears. He kept them all his life. He spoke to me all the time about death. He slept a long time with the light on. That’s why he pushed back bedtime in the early morning. Why come out of the shadows today? My father, who lives in London, is 91 years old and comes out of three cancers. He asked me when Johnny died to defend the honor of our family. The honor of your family is flouted? Johnny’s honor, yes. There are so many people who do not know anything about him. It is my duty to remember what a wonderful and generous man he has always been. Johnny was shy on TV, as silent as a Halliday, but he had the intelligence of a cat and scanned you in one look. He never let his family down. I have dozens of examples. When I stayed a month in a coma, just after his own coma, he called my wife every day. When my mother was sick of Alzheimer’s, he paid for his treatment. Without ever boasting about it. And no one ever dictated to him what he had to do. Michael Ketcham Halliday, on the left, and his sister, with Johnny Hallyday./LP/Jean Nicholas Guillo His testament dismissing David and Laura is his decision? Of course ! In the families of artists, we always have the worry of tomorrow. And Johnny had a terrible anguish: that his wife and daughters are running out. It was necessary that he shelters them . He told me that he thought that David and Laura were both adults, well-rounded, and they did not need him at that level anymore. It’s rough, it’s true, but Johnny also had that rough side. Because life had been rough with him. He knew that his decision would make Laeticia’s life hell. What do you think of the battle around his legacy? It’s hard for everyone. For David, Laura, Laeticia, Jade and Joy. But I was extremely hurt when we attack with such virulence Laeticia, who lived for twenty-three years with Johnny, who saved him, who was his guardian angel, who supported him until the end … She was a reconciler, who always sought to bring her closer to her family. When my father and Johnny were cold, she organized a dinner for them to talk to each other. Do you keep in touch with her? With my wife, we interact with Laeticia every day. His messages give me goose bumps. It’s so hard, mourning, so to do without someone who took up so much space … The most magnificent is what his daughters do. Every day, Jade puts drawings, letters and poems on her dad’s pillow, and she stays talking to her for half an hour … They’ll never be dropped.


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