Johnny Hallyday -- born Jean-Philippe Smet on June 15, 1943, in the Malesherbes area of Paris -- began his performing in French clubs and cabarets, which some of them kicked him out for singing the new American music. Having adopted the name Johnny Hallyday, he caught his big break in late 1959, when an appearance on the Paris Cocktail television show led to a record contract with Vogue. Hallyday released his first single, "Laisse les Filles," in early 1960. Its follow-up, "Souvenirs, Souvenirs," became his first major hit, and when he performed at France's first rock festival at the Palais de Sport in early 1961, he set off a near-riot that led to a ban on rock & roll shows for several months.
He switched from Vogue to Philips later that summer, and issued the smash LP Salut Mes Copains, which kicked off the so-called "yé-yé" era of French pop and made him a full-fledged teen idol. His tour of France that year touched off a hysteria not unlike the furor surrounding Elvis in the States. Toward the end of the year, Hallyday took French citizenship, appeared in the film Les Parisiennes, and had an enormous hit with "Viens Danser le Twist," an adaptation of Chubby Checker's "Let's Twist Again." Hallyday's success continued to snowball over the next few years, mixing American covers (as on the LP Johnny Hallyday Sings America's Rockin' Hits) with more traditional French pop: "Retiens la Nuit" (penned by Charles Aznavour), "Elle Est Terrible," "Be Bop a Lula," "Pas Cette Chanson," and two of his biggest hits, "L'Idole des Jeunes" and "Da Dou Ron Ron."
1961 LP Salut Les Copains! (FR Philips 77.374)
1961 EP Johnny Hallyday -Retiens La Nuit (FR Philips 432.739 BE)1961 LP Sings America's Rockin' Hits (FR Philips PHM 200.019)