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Geneva goes crazy for Johnny

Johnny Hallyday is a huge star in the French-speaking world Keystone Archive

People in Geneva have been snapping up tickets for concerts by an ageing rocker in a stadium that has not yet been built.

Yes, Johnny Hallyday, a man whose continuing popularity in the French-speaking world bemuses and amuses Anglo-Saxons in equal measure, is playing two concerts at Geneva’s new football stadium – albeit in 18 months’ time.

The concerts will take place on June 28 and 29 2003 – just a few days after Hallyday’s 60th birthday. He has chosen concerts in Geneva and Paris to mark this milestone.

The singer, who has been making music for over 40 years, has sold 80 million records, recorded over 1,000 songs, and has 18 platinum albums.

Loyalty card

The concert is being partly organised by the retail chain, Coop. The company put 5,000 tickets on sale on Wednesday at a preferential price for its loyalty card-holders. More than 4,000 were sold that day.

Queues of Johnny fans, excited that their idol would be coming to their city, formed at the eight Coop branches putting the tickets on sale.

Some might say it is tempting fate to put tickets on sale so early for a concert by a man who is close to drawing his pension.

In fact, the organisers were influenced by the response to Hallyday’s Paris concert, at the Parc des Princes. Some 35,000 tickets were sold in the first 10 days for that show.

New stadium

Interest will be increased as the star with the grizzled good looks and a colourful past will be bringing out a new album to coincide with his 60th birthday.

The new stadium – for now called Stade de la Praille after the district in which it is located – is being built as part of Switzerland’s joint bid with Austria for the 2008 European football championships.

It will hold 30,000 spectators, and the concert organisers are confident that they will be able to fill the stadium for both shows.

While the first match will be played in March 2003, the Hallyday concert is being seen as one of the key events in the inauguration celebrations.

by Roy Probert

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR