A wave of national mourning descended on France following the death of Hallyday, in the early hours of Wednesday morning. The star, a lifelong smoker, had been treated for lung cancer for several months but had been planning to release another album – his 80th – next year.

France's rock star Johnny Hallyday, who was nicknamed the French Elvis, died after a battle with lung cancer at the age of 74. He was a famous star in France, but the English Speaking World knew little about him. According to former president Nicolas Sarkozy, Hallyday was the French most famous rock star as he topped the charts and sold more than 100 million albums.

Here are five key things about the rock star you probably never heard of.

He wasn’t called Johnny

Initially, Hallyday was called Jean-Philippe Smet, but he changed it as he felt that it wasn’t very rock n roll kind of a name. So he changed his name to Johnny Halliday after his father figures Lee Halliday. Unfortunately, his stage name was misspelled on his first record and written as “Hallyday,” and thus he had to adopt the “y” instead of “i.”

Family man

Johnny was married five times in his entire life. He was twice married to Adeline Blondiau, who he first wed in 1990. His last marriage was to Laeticia Boudou in 1996 which was his longest tie. The two adopted two daughters, Joy and Jade. Johnny also had two children from earlier marriages, Laura Smet and David Hallyday.

A die-hard life

Johnny Hallyday survived a great deal in his entire life. He survived many car crashes, drug abuse, and a suicide bid. In 2009, millions of the star’s fans plunged into mourning after he was reportedly “dead.”

Movie star

Johnny appeared in 34 movies in his whole career, including comedy Family Business, which was directed by Costa-Gavras and crime drama Detective, directed by Jean-Luc Godard.

Swiss tax exile

In 2006, Johnny Hallyday chose to live in Switzerland as he had enough of being “fleeced” in France. This earned him a lot of criticism especially from the French political class, but he never seemed to be bothered much.

Nicknamed by many “the biggest rock star you’ve never heard of,” Johnny’s position as one of the greatest-selling musician of all time is unfamiliar as he remained known only in the Francophone world. Nonetheless, in France, he influenced styles, music and even children’s names. Johnny Hallyday will forever be in the heart of his fans and forever will be missed.