Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic
Derek Lawrence
December 05, 2017 AT 10:59 PM EST

Johnny Hallyday, the rock star and actor known as the “French Elvis,” has died at age 74 after a battle with lung cancer.

“Johnny Hallyday has left us,” his wife, Laeticia, said in a statement translated by Agence France Presse. “I write these words without believing them. But yet, it’s true. My man is no longer with us. He left us tonight as he lived his whole life, with courage and dignity.”

The singer, born Jean-Philippe Smet, helped usher in a new era of French music and is often credited for popularizing rock ’n’ roll in the country. During his 50-plus-year career, Hallyday sold more than 110 million records and topped the French charts over 30 times.

Like Elvis Presley, he would eventually transition into acting, appearing in Détective, The Man on the Train, and Pink Panther 2.

Music legends such as Celine Dion, Lenny Kravitz, and Richie Sambora paid tribute to Hallyday on social media. In a statement, French President Emmanuel Macron said that “there is a little bit of Johnny in all of us”.

“Across generations, he carved himself into the lives of French people,” Macron added. “He charmed them through the generosity you saw in his concerts: so epic, so intimate, in huge venues, in small spots.”

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