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French rocker Johnny Hallyday does NY, first time since 60s

Legendary French singer Johnny Hallyday performs in concert at the Bell Center as part of his Canadian tour October 4, 2012 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. AFP PHOTO / ROGERIO BARBOSA

NEW YORK: He's 69 and had health problems of late, but French rocker Johnny Hallyday sounds like a wired teenager when he talks about his first performance in New York in 50 years.

"A two-hour show, with music from the 70s up through to today, with fantastic musicians. It is going to be true rock 'n' roll. We're going to bring the house down," Hallyday told AFP in an interview.

Hallyday is to sing Sunday evening at the Beacon Theatre, a hall that was built in 1929, seats about 2,900 and has seen its share of stars: Eric Clapton, the Rolling Stones and Queen are among the big names who have graced its stage.

France's answer to Elvis Presley has sold more than 100 million albums and played 45 major tours in a career that began in the 1960s.

But fans got a scare over the summer when he was treated for bronchitis, being flown by helicopter from the island of Saint Barts, where he has a home, to the French Caribbean island of Martinique.

Hallyday was hospitalized again last month in Los Angeles, where he is based.

But now he is back on tour. He sang last week in Montreal, donning black leather pants and cowboy boots before an adoring crowd of 15,000 who were treated to some of Hallyday's greatest hits.

"I had not played there in 12 years. I love the people there because they have a great musical culture and have given me much warmth and love. I'll be back there soon, that's for sure," he said.

And after New York, where the French ex-pat community is certain to give him a rousing welcome, he has gigs scheduled in several cities in France, then London, Luxembourg, Moscow, Tel Aviv and Brussels.

Hallyday said he is delighted to be performing in New York. He has only done so once before, in 1962, aboard a ship anchored at the port for a charity show. He remembers it fondly because Jackie Kennedy was in the audience.

Hallyday also gushed enthusiasm for the Big Apple itself.

"I know this city well because I have lived here and recorded albums here. It is also one of the legendary cities of rock and roll, so I just had to perform here," he said.

Hallyday has an album coming out in November and will remain in France until the end of December to promote it. Then he will shoot a movie in January with French director Claude Lelouche.

"But I will get back on the road very quickly," Hallyday said.

 

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