The Johnny Hallyday esplanade in Paris, a tribute "overwhelming" Where "backfiring"?

Johnny Hallyday on his Harley Davidson in Saint-Tropez, in July 1991

JOHNNY HALLYDAY – “This work has stirred up passions, but it’s good. Johnny loved to be talked about. When we didn’t talk about him, he was almost upset ”. This Tuesday September 14 at 10 am, the esplanade in front of the AccorHotels Arena becomes “the Johnny Hallyday esplanade” in tribute to the singer who died in 2017. His widow Laeticia Hallyday and the mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo will be present, as will 150 bikers gathered under a statue in the shape of Harley-Davidson.

To honor the “Taulier”, the visual artist Bertrand Lavier has designed a sculpture in the shape of a 6-meter-high pole evoking a guitar neck, at the top of which sits a real boneless Harley-Davidson. “I wanted a work dedicated to Johnny who hated sculptures with his effigy. The guitar and the Harley are parts of Johnny’s life. Difficult not to associate them ”, explains Laeticia Hallyday in the columns of the Parisian. “It’s his real bike, but it’s been boneless, with no engine, without the elements that could piss off green people.”

Three months earlier, the project of this statue had indeed been criticized by Emmanuelle Pierre-Marie, EELV mayor of the 12th arrondissement in which the Johnny Hallyday esplanade is located. “At a time when we want to create a sustainable, peaceful city, the project mainly features a Harley-Davidson, which symbolizes something quite different”, declared the elected official at World. And to add: “I am a little apprehensive of the backfiring tributes that this monument is likely to arouse.”

Removed from the agenda of the borough council, the project was finally validated by a majority of elected officials at a Paris Council on July 7. “Let’s not caricature ourselves! Yes, it’s a motorcycle, but it doesn’t pollute… It’s a work of art that symbolizes an artist, and if it arouses controversy, that’s normal. It is even one of the functions of art, and it is important to pay tribute to popular figures who are unanimous ”, then reacted Anne Hidalgo.

A “moving” tribute for Laeticia Hallyday

A “controversy” which did not worry the widow of the singer of “I promise you”. “This work has unleashed passions, but it’s good”, even assures Laeticia Hallyday at Parisian. “Johnny loved to be talked about. When we didn’t talk about him, he was almost upset. ” From now on she hopes that the fans who “felt abandoned” by “the choice of Johnny to be buried in Saint-Barth”, will find there a “place to meditate, to lay flowers”.

The homage project to Johnny Hallyday designed by Bertrand Lavier

So despite the reluctance of the mayor of the 12th arrondissement, the six-meter-high statue was inaugurated with great fanfare on Tuesday on the square which now becomes “the Johnny Hallyday esplanade”, located just in front of the AccorHotels Arena where he has performed over 100 times during his career. Besides Anne Hidalgo and Laeticia Hallyday, five of Johnny’s loyal musicians, including Yarol Poupaud and Yvan Cassar, will play a few songs in the open air … surrounded by 150 bikers.

While a Johnny Hallyday esplanade has already been inaugurated in Toulouse, this is the “first official tribute paid to Paris”: “It is overwhelming, the culmination of two years of work, of several postponements due to the coronavirus. I’m proud, moved, I’m nervous, like Johnny before his tours. ”

The tribute to Johnny Hallyday will continue in the evening in music since about twenty artists give a concert on the stage of Bercy. Florent Pagny, Kendji Girac, Patrick Bruel or Gad Elmaleh will be there, but also “Catherine Ringer [qui] will come and sing Gabrielle. Johnny had a lot of admiration for her ”, recalls Laeticia Hallyday. A concert which will be held on the other hand without David Hallyday and Laura Smet, with whom “relations remain complicated”.

The concert, the profits of which will be donated to an association fighting against cancer – a disease that killed Johnny Hallyday – is also broadcast live this Tuesday, September 14 at 9:05 p.m. on France 2.

See also on Then24: Laetitia Hallyday very moved by the tribute to Johnny in Toulouse

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