French rock’n’roll legend Johnny Hallyday sadly passed away at the end of last year. You can read our full tribute to the great man here….


15/06/1943 – 05/12/2017

Known as the “French Elvis”, Johnny Hallyday sold more than 110 million records and was famous across generations. Although he wasn’t well known outside of the French-speaking world, he was music royalty in his homeland and was the biggest French rock ‘n’ roller ever. With a career spanning over half a century, he sadly passed away in December from lung cancer, aged 74. He released 50 studio and 29 live albums. Following his passing, French president Emmanuel Macron stated, “we will never forget the name, face, the voice or above all the concerts of Johnny Hallyday.” He later added on Twitter, “we’ve all something of Johnny in us”, a reference to Hallyday’s 1985 hit ‘Quelque chose de Tennessee’ (Something of Tennessee). France paid tribute to the man and mourned his loss, with a headline in L’Obs magazine reading “The king is dead” and the Duroc metro stop in Paris being renamed Durock Johnny.

Born Jean-Philippe Smet in Paris to a French mother and Belgian father, he was abandoned as a baby by his parents and raised by his aunt, surrounded by cabaret singers and performers. As a teenager he took to the stage, taking the name Hallyday from an American relative. At the age of 14 he saw Elvis Presley’s ‘Lovin’ You’ at the cinema which he later claimed determined the course of his life.

He briefly lived in London as a child, when the relatives who raised him were working there. He also stated that he recorded in the capital of England frequently and had some famous friends. “I was very good friends with Jimi Hendrix, I knew Mick Jagger, John Lennon. Rod Stewart is a friend. We’d all record in the different studios and meet for tea.”

Hallyday was signed to Vogue Records in late 1959 and his first was released in March 1960. The second single from that four-track EP, ‘Souvenirs Souvenirs’, which he performed on television, was his breakthrough hit. His ‘Viens Danser le Twist’ launched the transatlantic dance craze in France and his first album, the hugely successful ‘Salut les Copains’ on Philips resulted in a major tour and near-hysterical fans. President Charles de Gaulle was disgusted at the corruption of France’s youth and suggested they be drafted into road-gangs “because they clearly have too much energy to spare”.

Hallyday went from a young heartthrob who introduced France to American-styled rock ‘n’ roll in the ’60s to an ageing bad boy of French pop, wearing black leather, metal skull jewellery and rarely seen without a cigarette. His music was varied, covering everything from rock ‘n’ roll and blues to country and ballads, even though more than a quarter of his recordings were French adaptations of English language songs. However, Johnny Hallyday was best loved for his energetic and unforgettable live performances. Everything from hip-swinging and smoke and flames to being winched down into a stadium from a helicopter, he was a master performer. Over the course of more than 50 tours he played to more than 28 million people (roughly a third of the population of his homeland) and was so famous in France that Jimi Hendrix once played as his support act. His last legendary (and free) performance was on Bastille Day 2009 at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, with a live audience of between 800,000 and 1 million people.

His immense popularity led to alcohol, orgies, fights, tax scandals and fast motorbikes and cars (he walked away from a 125mph crash in his Lamborghini). He was dogged by insecurities and struggles as a result of being abandoned, going on to survive an early suicide attempt in 1966, suffer from depression, need cocaine to work and battle years of health problems. He had four marriages, and gossip magazines followed him around, even though he presented himself as a regular guy.

He wasn’t just a musician either, having acted to critical acclaim in numerous films and once for the auteur-director Jean-Luc Godard in the 1985 film ‘Détective’. Hallyday even won an award in 2003 for his role in Patrice Leconte’s ‘L’Homme du Train’. He was also personal friends with French politicians, including Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy.


Receiving a diagnosis of colon cancer in 2009, that was followed by an operation on a herniated disc resulting in him being put in a medically induced coma for three weeks. When the news broke the doctor who did the surgery was attacked in his home by a masked gang. However, Hallyday recovered and released the 2012 album ‘L’Attente’ in 2012, which resulted in his first ever gigs in the UK, at London’s legendary Royal Albert Hall. Two more followed in 2014 and 2015, as well as a 90-date tour Rester Vivant (Staying Alive) that only finished last year. Speaking of the 2012 Royal Albert Hall gigs, which he cited as his best memory on stage, he recalled, “there was a very ‘rock and roll’ atmosphere. People were getting on to the stage, like they did in the 1960s. I hadn’t seen that for some time.”
Latterly living in Los Angeles with his wife Laeticia and their two daughters, he lived the rock ‘n’ roll dream for over five decades. Rock in peace.

Check out Johnny singing ‘Laisse les Filles’ in 1960

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Rejuvenated power-pop rock’n’rollers LAST GREAT DREAMERS return this Spring with a brand new album and UK tour.

Recorded in deepest Oxfordshire last Autumn with producer Peter Brown, 13th Floor Renegades follows on from the widely acclaimed Transmissions From Oblivion released in 2016.

Originally coming together in London during the early 90s, the band turned a lot of heads with their debut album Retrosexual,  and as support du jour for visiting major US bands. Derailed by the onslaught of Britpop, vocalist Marc Valentine and lead guitarist Slyder convened a new line-up in 2014, issuing the rarities album Crash Landing In Teenage Heaven followed by the all-new Transmissions….  Since then they’ve been touring widely with the likes of The Quireboys, Bernie Tormé and former Runaways singer Cherie Currie.

“Everything fell into place at the right time,” says Valentine of the new album. “We started a Pledge campaign for the album, which had a fantastic response. The fans’ involvement was truly incredible and their generosity never ceases to amaze us. Hopefully with this album we get to repay their faith. It’s really been an organic process from start to finish, with a few twists and turns along the way, but we’re really proud of what we’ve managed to achieve in a short space of time.”

With the new album set for release on Friday 13 April through Ray Records, the band have lined up a series of UK dates, including an album launch party in Birmingham on 7 April, a London show at The Black Heart on 12 April and an appearance at Bearded Theory on 25 May. Full dates are…

Fri 9 March GREAT YARMOUTH Legends of Rock Festival

Sat 7 April BIRMINGHAM Asylum 2
Thu 12 April LONDON The Black Heart
Fri 13 April CANNOCK The Station
Sat 14 April BRIDGEND Hobos
Sun 15 April CAMBRIDGE Portland Arms
Wed 18 April WAKEFIELD Black Mass
Thu 19 April GRIMSBY Yardbirds
Fri 20 April CARLISLE Embers
Sat 21 April GLASGOW Nice’n’Sleazy
Sun 22 April NEWCASTLE Trillions

Fri 25 May DERBY Bearded Theory Festival
Sat 26 May BROMSGROVE Breaking Bands Festival
Sun 27 May BIRMINGHAM Dementia Awarefest

Tickets are on sale now via the band’s website.

Check out the video for last year’s single ‘Oblivion Kids’.

Last Great Dreamers on Facebook


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THE CURE frontman Robert Smith is to curate this year’s Meltdown Festival.

Founded in 1993, the Festival takes over venues on London’s South Bank each year with a series of events by artists chosen by a guest director. Past directors have included David Bowie, Patti Smith, Elvis Costello, John Peel, Nick Cave, Morrissey, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry and David Byrne.

Says Smith, “I am honoured and excited to be curating the 25th Meltdown Festival. More than 30 of my all time favourite artists – some of the most exciting, inspirational, intense and influential performers of the last 40 years – will make sure this 10-night extravaganza at London’s Southbank Centre is the must-see event of the summer!”

This year’s Meltdown will take place from 15-24 June. Tickets go on sale to Southbank Centre members on 13 March, and to the general public on 15 March, when first acts will be announced.

The Cure, whose most recent album was 4:13 Dream in 2008, last played the UK in 2016. They play a one-off sold-out 40th Anniversary show in Hyde Park on 7 July.

The Cure on Facebook

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Vive Le Rock favourites JAYA THE CAT have unveiled a new video on the eve of their latest tour of the UK and Ireland.

‘Huddersfield Rain’ – surely the only song written about the West Yorkshire market town – is taken from the band’s latest album A Good Day For The Damned, released last November. The video was shot at their London show during their previous visit in December.

They’re not playing Huddersfield this time around, but are playing….

Feb 8 – Waterfront Studio, Norwich
Feb 9 – The Maze, Nottingham
Feb 10 – The Art Department, Belfast
Feb 11 – Fibber McGees, Dublin
Feb 12 – Marr’s Bar, Worcester

Buy A Good Day For The Damned here.

Jaya The Cat on Facebook

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Texan country-billy saviour DALE WATSON crosses the pond for a series of European dates next month.

The silver-haired Austinite has been working hard over the past 20+ years in providing an antidote to the bland airbrushed attempt at country music that’s been issuing forth out of Nashville, engaging legions of fans with raw, honest, beer-drinking, trucking and cheating songs inspired by the likes of Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard in their outlaw country heyday.

Such sounds are captured on his recent live album, Live At The Big T Roadhouse, recorded in St Hedwig, Texas on one of the now legendary Chicken Shit Bingo Sundays.

This time around, Dale and his Lone Stars will be featuring a special guest appearance by co-vocalist Miss Celine Lee. Last time they played the 100 Club, it sold out quickly so prompt booking is advised. Full dates are….

Sun 11 Mar – Paradiso Noord, Amsterdam
Mon 12 Mar – Four Corners Music Hall, Untermeitingen
Wed 14 Mar – Schützenhaus Albisgütl, Zurich
Fri 16 Mar – The 100 Club, London
Sat 17 Mar – The Cluny, Newcastle
Sun 18 Mar – Brudenell Social Club, Leeds

Tickets are available now from Punk Rock Blues.

Dale Watson on Facebook

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Tickets are selling fast for the first ever Vive Le Rock Awards!

Already shaping up to be the rock’n’roll event of the year, the awards, which are sponsored by AEG Presents, will take place at the O2 Islington Academy in London on 28 March hosted by Ginger Wildheart and featuring 7 special live performances from Ginger, The Professionals, the UK Subs’ Charlie Harper TV Smith and The Vive Le Rockers, featuring members of The Urban Voodoo Machine, The Ruts and Jim Jones & The Righteous Mind – plus very special guests to be announced!!! You really don’t want to miss this!!!

Tickets for the awards, including a special VIP ticket allowing holders to hang out with the bands and award-winners in the private backstage bar and at the aftershow party, are available here! Book now because once they’re gone, they’re gone!

Guaranteed to be a wild night, votes are still being taken for the awards for Best Live Band and New Blood. Go here for full details!

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