December 11, 2009 / 5:45 PM / in 9 years

Sarkozy relieved that rocker Hallyday doing better

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Friday he was relieved that veteran French rocker Johnny Hallyday appeared to be getting better after undergoing an operation this week at a Los Angeles hospital.

The Cedars-Sinai hospital, where veteran French rocker Johnny Hallyday had surgery, is pictured in Los Angeles December 10, 2009. REUTERS/Jason Redmond

The 66 year-old singer, one of France’s most popular entertainers for nearly 50 years, suffered a complication after an earlier operation for a herniated disc and was treated at the Cedars-Sinai hospital.

“I was happy to hear that he was getting better and I’m sure that all French people will want to express their best wishes for a quick recovery,” Sarkozy, a friend of the entertainer, told a news conference after a summit meeting in Brussels.

Hallyday began his career in the 1960s as a local version of Elvis Presley and made his name as one of France’s first home-grown teenaged rock stars, cementing his fame by marrying the glamorous pop singer Sylvie Vartan.

He subsequently became a prolific recording artist, famed for his energetic live performances. He has also acted in a number of films by directors including Jean-Luc Godard and, most recently, in Hong Kong director Johnnie To’s “Vengeance,” shown at this year’s Cannes film festival.

News bulletins in France have been dominated for much of the week by the singer’s health after he experienced severe pain during a flight from Paris to Los Angeles.

He has suffered a series of problems in recent months and in September, told the weekly Tele Star that he had been operated on to treat colon cancer and that the treatment had been successful.

Sarkozy said that he had been getting regular updates from Hallyday’s son on the condition of the singer, who is still in hospital and who has been put into an artificial coma to ease the pain he has suffered.

“He gave me reassuring news on his father’s health but didn’t hide the fears they all had for him,” he said, but added: “I have confidence in him, he’s tough, he’s shown it.”

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