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INTERVIEW – “Without Laeticia, Johnny Hallyday would have left earlier”: the secrets of Daniel Angeli

Daniel Angeli shared the intimate circle of Johnny Hallyday for seventeen years. Originally a photographer, he ended up befriending the rocker. For Gala.fr, the one who is nicknamed the “king of the paparazzi” has agreed to tell his memories of holidays with the star.

Daniel Angeli did not have a life like the others. If he has spent a lot of time – and energy – track down the hottest stars of the last few decades, this image professional, who has inherited the nickname “king of the paparazzi”, has also forged a special relationship with certain personalities who have passed in front of his lens. This is the case of actor Yves Rénier, who was “his best friend“, but also Johnny Hallyday, whom he photographed for seventeen years. From the adoption of Jade in Vietnam to her concert at the Stade de France, through her daily life with her loved ones, Daniel Angeli immortalized almost everything. Intimate shots that he agreed to reveal to the general public, in a soberly titled book Johnny (Ed. Gründ), co-written with Bernard Pascuito and published in 2017. During an interview with Gala.frthis intimate of the teen idol agreed to us recount vacation memories with the husband of Laeticia Hallyday.

Gala.fr: Can you remind us how you met Johnny Hallyday?

Daniel Angeli : It was in Gstaad, where he was on vacation with Laura and Laeticia. I saw him at a terrace, so I went up to him and asked him, ‘Can we have a date with you?’ He said to me: ‘No’. I say to him: ‘Why, Johnny?’ He said to me: ‘You made me lose 5,000 places at Bercy’. He was talking about a photo I had taken the year before where he was coming out of Papagayo, a nightclub, carried by bodyguards. The two women talked during this time. The next day, I received a phone call intended for me. It was Johnny Hallyday, he said to me: ‘This morning I’m going skiing, I want you to come with me’. It was that first meeting that really attached me to him. He then asked me to join him in New York. It lasted twenty years. But to be honest, I never thought I would have this chance, because it was a real chance for me.

>> PHOTOS – Laeticia Hallyday: back on her love story with Johnny

Gala.fr: In your book “Johnny” (Ed. Gründ), you say that Laeticia Hallyday was “his guardian angel“and that, without her, he might have left earlier… Why?

Daniel Angeli : I said it and I still mean it. Laeticia prevented him from smoking too much, she blocked access to all bottles of alcohol, etc. Without her, I think he would have left at least two years sooner… You know, I went to visit him at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles and I can tell you that there he really failed die.

Gala.fr: You were Johnny Hallyday’s photographer and close friend for almost twenty years. What relationship did you have?

Daniel Angeli : First, there is a big difference between the Johnny that we ‘paparazzated’ and the moment when Laeticia entered his life. Me, I arrived a little at the same time as her finally. Besides, I made seven or eight trips with her to Africa, when she was sponsor of UNICEF. There was a period when I was a paparazzi, there were seven or eight of us, and then there was a turning point when I started working with Johnny Hallyday. I would never have thought to cross twenty years of the life of this artist. I was not a fan, but I admired this man a lot. The first fifteen days were difficult for me, because he impressed me. At that time, he repeated the Stade de France. When you’re on stage, behind a guy like that, with thousands of people in front of him, it’s still quite disturbing. Afterwards, I got used to it. But it’s true that I experienced incredible things with him.

© Gys Danny/Reporters/ABACADaniel Angeli (in the foreground) poses in front of a photo of him and Johnny Hallyday, during the photographer’s exhibition at the Abbey of Villers-la-Ville, in Belgium, on November 15, 2019.

Gala.fr: There is a little game that quickly takes place between you, like the day when he reframes you during a fake paparazzade…

Daniel Angeli: At the time, I was taking photos in Mauritius, where I set up a fake hideout with Johnny pulling Laeticia out of the water. At some point he called me. I was a hundred yards away, so I went up to him and asked him what the problem was. He said to me: ‘these are not paparazzi photos because I see you!’ So I ended up hiding a little further.

Gala.fr: You followed him to Saint-Tropez, Saint-Barth… What are your memories of summer with him?

Daniel Angeli : First there was Saint-Tropez, where I lived with my wife at the time. And then, we went on vacation several times together, to Mauritius in particular. Saint-Barth came much later. One day when I was just on the island, Johnny, who was in Bali, called me and said: ‘What are you doing in this redneck island?’ I tell him, I tell him it’s wonderful and he says to me: ‘book me a room in a hotel’. He arrived and that’s how he then built his house. Besides, I can say that he ruined my vacation for me, because every day I had to drive him to visit a house, a piece of land… He ended up finding land and having his house built, which was unbelievable.

Gala.fr: Which family members were present during these holidays in Saint-Barthélemy?

Daniel Angeli : I remember there were the little ones, Jade and Joy, whom they had just adopted. Sylvie Vartan came to celebrate her birthday in Saint-Barth with her husband Tony Scotti. As for David, he came a few times. But Laura, I don’t think I’ve ever seen her…

Opening of the exhibition
© COADIC GUIREC / BESTIMAGEInauguration of the “Johnny” exhibition by photographer Daniel Angeli, at the town hall of Levallois-Perret, on December 6, 2018.

Gala.fr: Looking back, did Laeticia Hallyday allow herself to be photographed as easily as Johnny?

Daniel Angeli: Laeticia was much more difficult! One day, there was a photo I had taken at the Olympia which made the poster for the film ‘Jean-Philippe’. In the morning, I brought to Marnes-la-Coquette a dozen shots to show them to Johnny Hallyday. He took the photo in question in his hand and said to me: ‘Damn, you finally made a rock’n’roll photo!’ He said it jokingly, but it was the truth.

Photo credits: CEDRIC PERRIN / BESTIMAGE

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