Highlights include a music festival in Paris in 1961 that got wild enough to lead to a temporary ban on rock "n" roll shows, and a 1966 show where he gave The Jimi Hendrix Experience their first gig, opening for him.
The death of the half-Belgian millionaire, whose cocaine use and playboy lifestyle burnished his rocker image, prompted a nationwide bout of nostalgia for one of only a handful of unifying national entertainers. He was a loyal friend and lovely, fearless performer and he will be missed by millions.
Yet while drawn to English-language music and low-tax jurisdictions, Mr. Hallyday remained defiantly French, singing "les blues" before massive crowds at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, where he appeared alongside dancers from the Moulin Rouge and drove a motorcycle across the stage.
Former president Nicolas Sarkozy - who once tried to tempt the man known universally as Johnny back from tax exile in Switzerland - said he represented "part of our personal history. our memories and emotions".
Johnny Hallyday performs at the Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris suburb, France, May 29, 2009.
Hallyday, whose real name was Jean-Philippe Smet, was born in Paris in 1943.
Johnny Hallyday performing in Brussels in 2006.
Kravitz shared two pictures of himself with Hallyday, and wrote: "Farewell Dear @JohnnySjh".
"Johnny is a monument".
"It is the end of a great artistic era for the French, " Gélinas said.
France is in mourning after waking up to the news that its most beloved rock star has died. His resounding success and longevity at the top, a 55-year career, which knew no lull, was a tribute to his dedication to his public and to his métier. "But I don't specially want to succeed elsewhere".
Some critics recalled that he was often dismissed as a French-made derivative of Anglo-American music.
Hallyday also had a long career as an actor, starring as gangsters, detectives and rockers in about 30 films by directors including Jean-Luc Godard and Patrice Leconte - but he had few significant roles. "I loved having him in front of my camera and as a friend".
Hallyday had been preparing a new album and stage tour when news of treatment for respiratory problems in a Paris hospital was announced last month.
He spent six days receiving treatment before returning to rest at home.