In 1963, Johnny, whose career was taking off, visited Maurice Chevalier, the undisputed French star of the time. The latter gives advice to the rising star: “Little one, you take care of your entrance and exit from the stage, and in between, you manage yourself. » It is with this recommendation that the exhibition opens at the foot of a reconstructed podium.
Éric Clavier, its artistic director, warns: “The tour was built like an imaginary concert, during which the visitor is invited to go behind the scenes. » From the first moments, the visitor is immersed in a flood of sounds, lights, decorations and objects which reflect the facets of the existence and the quality of the shows of the French rock legend during a fifty-seven year career. Each of the nine thematic spaces is associated with one or more of his hits. Thus, the stage entitled “Street dedicated to the childhood and youth of the singer” is punctuated by the piece I was born on the street .
The “Vedette” stop, dedicated to the beginnings of the teenager who became the spokesperson for a generation, is accompanied by the title For me life will begin. The hit All the music I love sets the tone for the space reserved for music. While for the United States, we listen again with happiness Something of Tennessee . “Cinéma”, “Public”, Star”, “Amour” and “Solitude” mark the rest of the visit. At each stop, the audio guide made available to the visitor provides valuable details said by the actor Jean Reno, close to Johnny and who participated in the writing of the texts.
Among the highlights of the exhibition, the evocation (more than the reconstruction) of the artist’s room as a teenager in a building on rue de la Tour-des-Dames, in Paris, with a record player, a Calor fan and a Mustache armchair, witnesses of the 1960s. A small circuit allows you to linger in front of the different stage outfits worn by the “French Elvis” (as the New York Times ), from the black costume of his first concert at the Olympia in 1961, to the shiny patterned jacket of the Vieilles Canailles tour in 2017, including the white jacket of the Fête de l’Huma in 1984 or the all leather from the Bercy concerts in 1995. Proof that the idol of young people was also a fashion icon.
Bikers are not left out. They will find on display the last three Harley-Davidson motorcycles of the interpreter of Made in Rock’n’roll . And fans of big cars can approach a Cobra convertible sports car, often photographed during Johnny’s trips to Los Angeles… A few steps away, the singer’s acting talents are displayed through posters and videos of the roles that he camped. In a corner, a small room is dizzying. Equipped with mirrors in which a few hundred front pages are reflected when turning – among the 2,500 magazine covers devoted to Johnny during his career – it gives an idea of the starmania of which the interpreter of Gabrielle was the object. Not far from there, we also find numerous covers of the 80 records recorded by “Jojo”.
The emotion is there in front of the fetish pendant with the crucified guitarist, through which the most famous yé-yé displayed his Catholic faith. Also in the rotunda, the epicenter of the exhibition, where giant plasma screens loop its most beautiful concerts in 360 degrees. It culminates for fans and others in front of the office of his house in Marnes-La-Coquette (Hauts-de-Seine), moved here in the exact state it was in when the artist breathed his last there, on December 5, 2017. This final station meets the wishes of Laeticia, his last wife, initiator of this event who wants the exhibition to “rediscover or discover the man that Johnny was by combining the spectacular and the intimate” . Successful bet !