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Dec 7, 2:08 PM EST

French President Emmanuel Macron, first lady Brigitte Macron and hundreds of thousands of fans are expected to pay tribute to the late French rock star Johnny Hallyday on Saturday


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PARIS (AP) -- French President Emmanuel Macron and hundreds of thousands of fans are expected to pay tribute to the late French rock star Johnny Hallyday on Saturday as his funeral procession weaves through Paris.

Hallyday died Wednesday at age 74. The news has prompted a wave of emotion in France, where the singer, often described as the country's Elvis Presley, seduced generations of fans.

His funeral procession will start at the Arc de Triomphe monument in Paris and go down the city's grand Champs-Elysees Avenue. Up to 700 bikers will follow the coffin - since motorcycling was Hallyday's great passion.

The singer's band is expected to play some of his hits on a stage in front of the Madeleine Church, where a religious ceremony will follow. Macron plans to make a brief speech during the ceremony. Fans will be able to follow the ceremony on giant screens.

Paris police head Michel Delpuech told reporters he expects "hundreds of thousands of people" to attend the tribute. About 1,500 police officers will secure the area.

"Johnny showed deep affection for his public and his fans and I think it's important for people to be allowed to be close to the funeral procession," said Hallyday's manager, Sebastien Farran.

French radio RTL and the Le Parisien newspaper reported that Hallyday will be buried in the French Caribbean island of St. Barts where he owned a house.

Other tributes are planned. The words "Thank you Johnny" will be displayed on the Eiffel Tower over the weekend and all soccer stadiums hosting games in the top two divisions of the French league plan to play Hallyday's songs before kick-off.

The soccer league noted that Hallyday had "lit the fire" among fans in many of its stadiums.

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Samuel Petrequin in Paris contributed to the story

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