Petite France, houses on the river Ill, October 2005, StrasbourgIf you had asked me to name a French celebrity before I moved to France, then Gérard Depardieu or Vanessa Paradis are perhaps the only two, excluding politicians, I could have named.

Certainly not Johnny Hallyday – because I’d never heard of him.

This is the man who is billed as the French equivalent of Elvis – he’s been rocking the French charts for over forty years. His first album was released in 1960, his forty-fourth in 2005, and he’s still going strong.

What’s more – Johnny is still as popular now as he was forty years ago; and his influence on French culture is such that when he recently vocalised his support for right-wing politician and presidential candidate – Nicolas Sarkozy – it made headline news.

In short – this man is bigger than Elvis.

So how is it possible to have never heard of him?

Quite simply: because he generally sings in French; and unfortunately the only way for a French artist to get any airtime in the UK is either to sing in English or to enter the Eurovision Song Contest.

Which if you ask me is a case for the European Court of Human Rights!