Johnny Hallyday aka the "French Elvis" has died after battling lung cancer for several months. He passed away at his home in Marnes-la-Coquette, situated in west of Paris, following medical treatment at a hospital. He was 74 years old.

"Johnny Hallyday has left us. I write these words without believing them. But yet, it's true. My man is no longer with us," his wife Laeticia Hallyday said in a statement to Agence France Presse on Wednesday (6 December). "He left us tonight as he lived his whole life, with courage and dignity."

"Until the very last moment, he held firm against this illness that had afflicted him for months, teaching us all extraordinary life lessons," Laeticia said. " The rocker "lived his entire life wholly for his fans, who loved him and idolised him."

In March, Hallyday had announced that he had been diagnosed with lung cancer and would be undergoing treatment.

Credited as the first singer to popularise rock 'n' roll in France, Hallyday, whose real name is Jean-Philippe Smet, began his music career at the end of the 1950s, singing French language cover songs of artists like Elvis Presley, Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochrane among others.

He released his first album Hello! Johnny in 1960. The following year while performing at the first rock festival at the Palais des Sports in Paris, he set off a near-riot that led to a ban on rock 'n' roll shows for several months.

Hallyday's popularity in his country paved the way for legendary rock artists to make an impact on the music scene in France. He opened for the Jimi Hendrix Experience at the Paris Olympia in 1966.

The highlight of his music career came when he performed in front of more than 600,000 at the Eiffel Tower in 2001. He has more than 1,000 songs to his name and over 30 No.1 hits on the French music charts. He has sold about 100 million records in his music career and has even starred in a number of films.

Johnny Hallyday
Johnny Hallyday (File photo) Charles Platiau/Reuters