PARIS — France's rock 'n' roll icon Johnny Hallyday has revealed he is suffering from cancer, but insists his condition is not life-threatening.
The 73-year-old singer, whose career spans more than half a century, issued a statement late Wednesday after alarming rumours about his health emerged on social media.
"I was actually diagnosed a few months ago with cancer cells for which I'm currently being treated," said Hallyday, whose real name is Jean-Philippe Smet. "My life is not in danger today."
Often described as the French Elvis, Hallyday suffered several health scares over the past 10 years but has continued to perform on stage.
Renowned for his deep and powerful voice, glittering outfits and spectacular live shows, Hallyday released his latest album "Rester Vivant" — which translates as "Staying Alive" —last year.
Hallyday is expected to return to the stage in June as part of the "Vieilles Canailles" — the "Old Crooks" — tour, when he will be performing alongside his long-time friends and veteran musicians Jacques Dutronc and Eddy Mitchell.
"I'm doing very well and am in good physical condition," Hallyday said.
Hallyday's statement was issued after his daughter Laura Smet's Facebook account was hacked earlier this week by people who claimed in a fake message that her father was dying. Gossip magazine Closer published a story Thursday claiming that Hallyday's health is "very preoccupying" and that he is battling lung cancer.
Smet's lawyer, Herve Temime, told The Associated Press he has filed a legal complaint for identity theft and that his client has already spoken to police.
Inspired by American rockers such as Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis, Hallyday gave his first professional concert in 1960, under the name Johnny, and put out his first album a year later. He quickly became a favourite of young people during the "Ye-ye" period, the golden years of French pop music. A respected musician, Hallyday played with Jimmy Hendrix during the 1960s and once recorded a song with Led Zeppelin founder Jimmy Page.
With his square-jawed good looks and piercing blue eyes, Hallyday also achieved fame through a modest film career, playing in French director Jean-Luc Godard's "Detective" (1984) and with other illustrious directors including Costa-Gavras.
Although he did not achieve stardom outside France, Hallyday became an institution at home and has sold more than 100 million records.
Samuel Petrequin, The Associated Press