One of France's favourite rocker, Johnny Hallyday, was tonight in an induced coma after doctors in the US performed an emergency operation to remove lesions on his back.
The 66-year-old singer, dubbed the "French Elvis", whose ailing health in recent months has held a devoted nation in suspense, was rushed to hospital in Los Angeles yesterday, suffering complications from earlier surgery in Paris. After briefly waking up and opening his eyes "to recognise his wife", he was put back in an artifical coma to aid his recovery, said his producer, Jean-Claude Camus.
Hallyday, a superstar in France who has sold more than 100m records, has seen a gruelling valedictory tour disrupted this year by repeated health scares. Ever since the revelation over the summer that he had been suffering from colon cancer, his legions of fans have been obsessively following his condition.
Speaking today in Brussels, President Nicolas Sarkozy said he had spoken to the singer's son David on the telephone. "It provokes great emotion in France because he's a much-loved man and, for each of us, he represents a bit of our personal history: memories, feelings, songs, music," he said, Guardian.co.uk reports.
Johnny Hallyday's son said Friday he had "positive news" on the health of the "French Elvis," who lay in an artificial coma in a Los Angeles hospital.
"The news is very positive. He is very strong, it's going very well," David Hallyday told reporters after landing from a Paris flight.
The rocker, admitted to the Los Angeles hospital on Monday, had received the latest operation overnight Wednesday to Thursday due to severe lesions he suffered from a botched operation for a slipped disc last month at a Paris clinic favored by celebrities, AFP reports.
Separately Saturday, the lawyer for the French doctor who first operated on Hallyday said two masked men attacked Dr. Stephane Delajoux overnight in Paris. The physician was roughed up but not hospitalized.
Hallyday producer Jean-Claude Camus told France's TF1 television that Hallyday was put in a coma "so he won't suffer," and the outlook was positive.
The singer is an idol in France, The Associated Press reports.