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Johnny Hallyday RIP Remembering ‘French Elvis’ in Switzerland

Johnny Hallyday, the French rock star who has died from cancer, had a large fan base in French-speaking Switzerland, and once made headlines when he moved to the country for tax reasons. (RTS/  

Hallyday’s career spanned 57 years. He sold more than 110 million albums, among them "I love you”, "Light the fire”, "The Penitentiary" and “Mary”. Some say he was the biggest rock star that France had ever seen.  

The singer performed in Switzerland from the very beginning of his career. His first concert, aged 17, was at "The cricket”, a club in Geneva. He went on to perform at many other Swiss venues, notably in a prison in canton Vaud. He last visited Switzerland on June 13, appearing on stage in Geneva as part of the "Vieilles Canailles" tour with French musicians Eddy Mitchell and Jacques Dutronc. 

Bernese resident

The French rocker was hardly known outside the francophone world. Yet Johnny Hallyday become famous throughout Switzerland for something that had nothing to do with music. He settled in 2006 in a chalet in the upmarket resort of Gstaad, in the Bernese Alps. 

The multimillionaire benefited from a Swiss "tax package" granted to rich foreigners. This was controversial, as he did not meet the conditions that would normally qualify him for the tax breaks: residing on the spot at least six months of the year. His story relaunched the public debate on tax breaks, and Johnny eventually moved to California and sold his Gstaad chalet in 2015.

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