Did you know that Johnny Hallyday's roots lie in Belgium?
Johnny Hallyday was born in Paris in 1943. His mother, Huguette Clerc, a young actress was French. His father, Léon Smet was Belgian, born in Schaerbeek in 1908. In his memoirs, published in 1979 by Paris Match, the rocker talks about him in his own words: "He was a man who lived on stage from the age of fourteen. He was a dancer in the ballet troupe of the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels. He learned singing and drama. He played classical roles and acted, particularly in France, under the pseudonym of "Jean Michel" and carved out an excellent reputation. He was complimented by Jean-Louis Barrault and Jean Cocteau. With an "artistic" temperament running through his veins, he was a brilliant, fantastic, versatile man, split between delirious enthusiasm and uncontrollable "depressions". In Brussels, he set up a well-known drama school."
Marie Capart is a historian and genealogist and has traced the line of the Smets, Johnny Hallyday's Belgian family. Clément Smet, Johnny's grandfather, was originally from Beez where he was born in 1864. By way of Walloon connections, it is the Namur roots that emerge particularly: Bonnine, Ville-le-Waret, St Denis and even Namur, the Walloon capital see a succession of singer's ancestors and cousins.
Indeed, Johnny is directly descended from the Le Thourier family which includes several of the city's aldermen and a canon of the Saint-Aubain cathedral in the 15th century. Le Thourier is also a strange echo of the singer's nickname, "Le Taulier"... But looking at another branch of the family tree, Onin, there are also Namur aldermen (including Jean Onin known as de Langele, alderman in 1516) and especially a Baltazar, bailiff and advisor, owner of the famous "Ferme du Quartier" in Bouge.