Fans gather next to an artwork showing a motorcycle sitting atop a guitar neck during the inauguration of the Johnny Hallyday esplanade in Paris.-AFP photos

Adoring fans paid tribute to late French rocker Johnny Hallyday yesterday as a statue went up in Paris in honor of the “French Elvis”. The beloved star, who died in December 2017, will also be feted with a concert and his very own “Johnny’s Bar” at one of the city’s biggest arenas. But like much of Hallyday’s life, the homage has not been without controversy.

The local Green party mayor initially objected to the statue, featuring his beloved Harley Davidson perched on the end of a guitar, feeling it was not in keeping with the city’s environmentalist turn. And the family feud that erupted over the partition of his vast estate means two of his four children — actress Laura Smet and singer David Hallyday — are not expected to attend.

Fans attend the inauguration of the Johnny Hallyday esplanade in Paris.

Hallyday parlayed the huge success from Gallic covers of US rock ‘n’ roll, such as “Blue Suede Shoes” and “C’est Le Mash Potatoes”, into a long career in music, film and tabloid gossip before his death at age 74. His fourth and final wife, Laeticia Hallyday, was on hand as the area in front of the Accor Arena in Paris — a site where the rocker played 101 shows — was renamed Esplanade Hallyday.

“Johnny would have been proud to see his name anchored forever in the soil of Paris,” she said. Laeticia turned down the idea of a hologram Johnny at the concert, however, telling Le Parisien: “I’m not ready for that.” She also admitted that tensions remain within the extended family. – AFP