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The story of the Harley-Davidson at Hallyday’s funeral

The meaning and origin of the blue Harley-Davidson motorbike that motored ahead of the 700 bikers during Johnny Hallyday’s funeral procession have been revealed.

The iconic French entertainment star died of lung cancer in the early hours of Wednesday morning this week, aged 74.

His life and musical legacy has been remembered in a weekend-long memorial ceremony in Paris this weekend, with an “hommage populaire” state funeral taking place yesterday and the words “Thank You Johnny” projected onto the Eiffel Tower in his memory.

During the procession, the route of which included a trip down the Champs-Elysées from Place Charles de Gaulle, across Place de la Concorde and Place de la Madeleine, a blue Harley-Davidson motorbike emerged from the pack of riders, and stayed just ahead.

It also stopped and stayed in front of the church in Place de la Madeleine during the private ceremony with Hallyday’s family.

The impressive bike - a Harley-Davidson Softail Springer 89 in brilliant blue - has now been revealed as previously belonging to the singer himself, with the star regularly riding it around on his travels.

Now, it belongs to Jean-François Gobertier, the wealthy head of an Haute-Savoie-based business and Johnny Hallyday super-fan, reports French news source 20 Minutes.

Gobertier is said to have bought the bike at the same time as buying Hallyday’s blue Cadillac car, last February, for €550,000 in total.

It was Gobertier who leant the bike to the rider for this weekend’s funeral, and, while he did not want to ride it himself, was happy to see another fan take care of it during the ceremony.

Hallyday was a famous bike lover, having featured references to the iconic Harley-Davidson designs in his songs Possible en Moto, and the extremely-apt Pour Que Ma Harley Repose En Paix (May My Harley-Davidson Rest in Peace).

Fans have dubbed this weekend’s memorial ceremony as “moving”, and “something that will stay in my heart forever”, reports said.

Estimates suggest that 800,000 to 1 million people showed up to pay their respects, despite the cold temperatures and long wait in the crowds.

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