Jean-Baptiste Guégan: “Johnny is cushy in paradise”

the essential
Jean-Baptiste Guégan successfully released his 3rd album, “All the tears dry one day”, which was immediately placed among the best sellers. He will be in concert at the Barrière casino in November 2023.

First in his native Brittany and then throughout France, Jean-Baptiste Guégan became known as the vocal clone – “but above all not his imitator” – he always insists, of Johnny Hallyday. A huge asset that has allowed him to become a star in turn who, while remaining faithful to his idol, gradually manages to assert his own personality. Evidenced by a 3rd album again largely written and composed by Michel Mallory… old accomplice of Hallyday.

Michel Mallory is behind most of the songs on your album, most often with his son Jean-Thomas. We have the impression that he is a surrogate father for you…

Michel is of course 50 years of friendship with Johnny Hallyday. But he overcame that and I, in turn, became very close to him. We don’t need to talk to each other to understand each other. He knows what is good for me. So, yes, Michel is more than a friend, he’s a spiritual father.

You recorded in Nashville. What does it feel like to work in such a mythical city for music?

Philippe Russo, my artistic director, knows Nashville and its musicians well. He assembled a great group to accompany me. When you arrive at the Sound Emporium and see photos of Carl Perkins, Elvis, Michael Jackson, Paul McCartney or Johnny on the studio walls, you are bound to be very impressed. The little Frenchman that I am is incredibly lucky!

Your voice immediately associates you with Johnny. Your life too, which has often been very complicated, since childhood. How do you perceive this?

It is true that the similarities are numerous, without ever having been done on purpose. We perhaps owe it to our character: we never let ourselves be pushed around; we like to fight, we are rock’n’roll at heart. The difficulties have forged us, allowed us to evolve. During my Zénith tour, I learned to play the role of business manager, to manage teams, not to confuse turnover and profits. I was the boss!

This voice so recognizable, do you work on it?

My tonality, my range, I cannot change them. Unfortunately for some, fortunately for others! I don’t work on my voice to bring it closer to Johnny’s: I’m not an imitator. I never took singing lessons. It’s on stage that I put my title back into play each time.

How did you keep your head on your shoulders after the success of your first album and the tours that followed?

I am well surrounded. And unlike Johnny, I’m not the type to spend my money on anything and everything. I only have a Harley and a Mercedes; my garage is not filled with luxury cars! I know the value of money and how quickly it can burn your fingers. My greatest pleasure is to go on vacation with my children (a 14-year-old, twins, girl and boy, 10 and a half years old) who are most often with their mother, in Brittany, whereas I live near from Valenciennes, recently married. Our Christmas, we will spend it in Belgium, near a large animal park.

One of your new songs is called “Saint-Barthélémy”. Do you know the place?

I know Saint-Barth, this island where I once went on vacation. Saint-Barthélemy, written in full, is something else; this is the cemetery where Johnny is buried. I went, of course. And if many regret that he is so far from us, I respect his wishes. He did like Gauguin and like Brel in other latitudes: he wanted to be buried in paradise and he is there now, quiet, cushy.

What will your next show consist of?

Question repertoire, it will be Hallyday for half, Guégan for the rest. I will therefore still sing the great classics of Hallyday: “Que je t’aime”, “La musique que j’aime”, “L’envie”, etc. And songs that are mine. I’m lucky to have a fabulous audience, who understood what artist I was. There are Johnny’s fans, who dubbed me and the others, who come for me. I want to please everyone, leave no one behind.

Album “All tears dry up one day” (Chiflaos/RCA/Sony Music).
Jean-Baptiste Guégan in concert “Johnny, you & me”, Thursday November 16 at the Barrière casino, Toulouse. Prices: from €44 to €62. Tel.05 34 31 10 00 (www.box.fr)