“This is a Canadian group from the late 50’s into the early 60’s; the first Canadian group to totally write and record their music in Canada. They came out of Montreal, but were huge in Toronto.
I spent many nights at the Le Coq Dor Tavern on Yonge Street in Toronto. I was there when they did their first ‘live’ album. It’s a wonder I did not become an alcoholic – I spent so much time there. Maybe that’s why I do not drink today. I digress.
I first heard “Moonlight Party” on WKBW in Buffalo and it was a group called the Del-Tones and the eventually changed their name to …
Named after the Bomarc missile
The Beau-Marks were:
- Joey Frechette – piano and lead vocal (1939)
- Ray Hutchinson – Lead guitar and vocals (1940 – October 30, 2021)
- Mike Robitaille – bass guitar (1941)Deceased
- Gilles Tailleur – Drums (1941 – 1976)
All references to Chart Standings will be via the longest running Chart in the World, (Toronto’s) “The Chum Chart” 1957 – 1986
Here are the first two songs originally recorded under the name, “The Del-Tones“
Now under the new name “The Beau Marks“
From the Live Album, which I was there for in 1961
I was and still am a huge fan; they were pure Rock and Roll with no gimmicks/ light shows/ huge amps; just good musicians and very entertaining. I can remember lining up to be at the recording of the Live album and it was cold, so this must have been around Feb or Mar of 1961. I hope you enjoy the music of this group as much as I do. -Gary
Before 1960, there had been several Canadian acts with major success on the US charts, like Paul Anka, Jack Scott and The Diamonds. However, their hits had all been recorded in the States. The Beau-Marks were the first Canadians to have a rock hit in the USA with a Canadian-produced recording.
The group evolved in June 1958 when polio victims Ray Hutchinson and Mike Robitaille met through a shared interest in music at a school for handicapped children in Montreal, Quebec. Hutchinson (guitarist/vocalist) and Robitaille (who played the bass) subsequently teamed up with pianist-vocalist Joey Frechette and drummer Gilles Tailleur.
They wrote their own material, financed their own recordings and used local studios, none of which was too common in the late fifties, certainly not in Canada.
Originally the group was called The Del-Tones and under this name they had their first release on Canada’s Quality label in April 1959, the rockabilly single “Rockin’ Blues“/”Moonlight Party“. This 45 also saw a UK release on Top Rank JAR 171. However, a copyright hassle from a US group forced the band to change their name to The Beau-Marks, which came from, of all things, the BOMARC missile.
Under the new name they recorded their second single, “Clap Your Hands“/”Daddy Said“, but for some unclear reason, Quality postponed its release until April 1960, some ten months after it had been recorded.
The record was purchased for US release by Bob Shad, who owned the Brent, Warner, Shad and Time labels in New York City. Released on Shad 5017, “Clap Your Hands” scored well in many markets and reached #45 on Billboard’s charts in mid-1960, staying in the Top 100 for 14 weeks. The record also did (very) well in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and some European countries and led to appearances at the Peppermint Lounge, Carnegie Hall and on Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand”.
The Beau-Marks followed this up with “Cause We’re In Love“/ “Billy Billy Went-a Walkin’“, which first came out in the US and then in Canada. Bobby Shad coupled the next release, “Oh Joan” with the USA-unissued “Rockin’ Blues“, this time on his Time label.
Several more singles followed, both in Canada (all on Quality) and the USA (on Time, Rust and Port), but “Clap Your Hands” would remain their only hit.
The Beau-Marks remained a popular Canadian attraction until they disbanded in 1965.
Lead singer Ray Hutchinson joined Dave Nichols and “The Coins” before settling in as a North American lounge act, but had to retire from music after sustaining serious injuries in a 1988 car accident.
Mike Robitaille became successful in video production; Gilles Tailleur died of a cerebral hemorrhage at age 35. Joey Frechette was the head of Capitol Records‘ April Blackwood publishing, then a program director at CHOO radio on Ajax, Ontario, before re-recording his own version of “Clap Your Hands” in 1987 under the name Joey Conrad.
For a video presentation of Ray Hutchinson’s career, see the following …
Part 1 /
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Really trying to find Joe Frechette/Conrad. Lost track of him around 1990 when CHOO/Ajax was still around.
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I was a huge fan of the group and was there at the Le C’oq D’Or when they recorded live. Unfortunately, they broke up in 63, 52 years ago. Ray went with Dave Nichols and the Coins and performed at the Embassy on Bloor Street, then later he had his car accident and I assume is still in Peterborough. Gilles died many years ago at the age of 35 and Mike I last heard was back in Quebec and died a few years ago. Joey, recorded under the name Joey Conrad, but that’s all I know. They were a Montreal based band and I was a fan as soon as I heard Moonlight Party on WKBW in Buffalo of all Stations. They were the first band to write and record all of their material in Canada. If anyone has any more details, they would be appreciated. I spent many nights on Yonge Street at the Le C’oq D’or listening too them, I own most if not all of their music. Memories, I have a lot where that group is concerned.
Ray is living in Peterborough in a retirement residence. We are going to honour him (he will be attending) at our Christmas with the King Elvis tribute concert on Sat. Dec. 2nd at Showplace Performance Centre.
Can I have details about the event on December 2?
Price and time.
I attended the same school in Montreal and the Shriner’s hospital next door to the school.
I have another event in Oakville on that day but I would try to make it if at all possible.
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I knew Ray and Mike from grade school in Montreal. I was also in the Shriner hospital with Ray on a couple of occasions. He had polio and I had club-feet. The school, located on Cedar Ave., was quite small. So we would run into each other from time to time. I learned to play piano with Mike at that school (I didn’t do so well). Last I heard was that Ray was in a home in Peterborough. I sent him a Christmas card about 5 or 6 years ago. But didn’t hear back. I last saw Ray perform near the Toronto airport at a place call The Hosienda or something like that in the early 1980’s. I don’t think that he would actually remember me. We talked a few times but can’t say we were friends.
My drummer friend, Sonny Milne, visited Ray in Peterborough not too long ago. Sonny likes to keep in touch with people. We both remember Ray from when he played at the Zanzibar. He always looked so classy on stage. Thanks for the nice comments. – Russ
Thanks Russ for this information. I would appreciate it if you could give me the information on where he is. I used to have an address of 246 Rubidge street in Peterborough. If I ever were in the neighborhood, I would like to look him up. I also have those green report cards that you see in the video. I don’t know if he ever told Sonny about those school days. He and Mike were little devils, playing tricks on the teacher Mrs. Cochran (I believe that was her name, long time ago). Because of the nature of the school (Cripple Children’s School) you had two or three classes combined. Dr. Patterson was the principle at the time. There was an 8 week summer camp in the Eastern Townships in Quebec. I don’t recall Ray or Mike ever attending. I attended throughout grade school. Then I worked in the kitchen throughout my high school years. I felt I needed to give back for those great summers I spent at that camp.
Get back to me with that information, if you can.
We used to go to the Windsor hotel in St.Jean Quebec to see and hear them play. Their album at the Coq D’or in Toronto was the same thing they did in St.Jean. I was in the air cadets, as a teenager, in St. Hubert Quebec and was on the drill team and I saw them there doing the cover shoot for the Clap Your Hands album in front of an F-86 Sabre Jet that was part of the Golden Hawks RCAF precision flying team. A great memory to share with you all.
Thank you, Jim!
Is Ray Hutchinson still in a home in Peterboro Ont.
Not sure where but Sonny visits him.
The last address I have for Ray is;
Rubidge Retirement Residence
I, somehow got this address about 8 or more years ago. Not sure if it’s still applicable. I had sent a Christmas card out to him at the time. But, didn’t hear back. If there is a more updated address out there, I would appreciate getting it.
May 3, 2017
Just heard a show about Ray on a radio station in Ottawa. I remember the Beau Marks because my sister Irene used to go out with Michel around 1960. she was also in the School for Crippled Children in Montreal.
Good to hear from you Laz.
I may have known your sister. I also attended The School for Crippled Children at the same time as Ray and Mike. I also attended the Shriner’s Hospital, next door to the school, on a few occasions while Ray was there. Being from the same school, we would chat and hang out. Not sure if your sister would remember a schoolmate by the name of Claude Allard. He knew the ground when they formed. Last time I saw him was while working at the summer camp in the Eastern Townships on lake Massasawipi
I’m on vacation away from home until the end of February. So, unfortunately I can’t refer to the dates on those green report cards they gave us. Ask your sister if she remembers the Tag-Days we used to have to raise money for the school.
Thanks for the opportunity to go back a few years in history.
Thanks for another great post taking me back to my youth. Particularly enjoyed the “doo wop” like phrases in Little Billy Went a Walking. Seeing the video segment on Ray’s life on where he is today was a reminder of how many years have gone by.
I played lead guitar in a band called “Eric and the Counts”……way way back…….and on a couple of occasions we played with them……..kind of like a guest band. We were still all in school so the hotel on the south shore of Montreal had to get permission as we were all under age. Meeting them, changing in Ray’s room, at times being on stage with them is an experience I’ll never forget. They were great, and a real class act. They treated us wonderfully. The town we lived in was Greenfield Park……and everyone in the “Park” loved them. “Loved them” were the words………everyone did.
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Hi, there were other members also that played when Ray and Joey departed the band Brien Hamilton ,Al Baron,Tom Reddy all played with Mike as he continued to play under the Beau Marks name for a few years also Tina was not recorded with the Band Ray put this out himself ,. Moonlight Party was not recorded with Quality, the original recording was on London records and the studio they recorded at was Sterio Sound Studio in Montreal. All there other recordings except the Live album were at the RCA Studio in Montreal. Quality did not have a Studio. in Toronto only there plant and offices.
Rebecca: I am well aware that Ray recorded Tina and that most if not all of the original recordings were done in Montreal. Thanks for your input you obviously know a lot about them. I was just a huge fan in Toronto and of Ray with Dave Nichols. I spent many a cold night lined up to see the Beau Marks, I loved the band, was not a smoker and sucked as a drinker, but you had to or they asked you to leave. Any other information you have is appreciated.
Thanks for the memories of the great Canadian bands from the Beau-Marks to the wonderful Dave Nichols and The Coins. Fond beer drinking memories of the Ottawa House in Hull and the Talisman on Carling Avenue in Ottawa.
Not sure if you know that we had Ray inducted into the Pathway of Fame in Peterborough a few years ago. Needless to say, he was over the moon. Also just an update on Dave Nichols and the Coins – as you are all probably aware Dave passed away some time ago and we lost his guitar player Steve (a good friend of ours) a few years back and Terry , keyboardist magnifico, as well.
I was talking to my sister yesterday and we recalled new years eve (I believe 1970/71) and seeing your group at the Savarin in Toronto. I was the lead guitarist and my sister remembers the large crowd. I sent a message to the retirement home in Peterborough to Ray – hope he gets it. It was a pleasure playing in the group and I will recall it with fond memories.
What group were you in? We followed Ray for many years and are in contact with him. We live in Bobcaygeon which is only about 45 mins. from Peterborough. In fact, my husband Paul is still referred to as his manager by Ray although Ray no longer is able to perform.
Hi Barry. Nice to read your post. I hope and trust all is well.
Hello, I’m writing an article on the Beau Marks for France magazine JukeBoxMagazine. I need information about date they was on Bandstand, Peppermint Lounge, Carnegie Hall? When we hear So fine/Be bop a lula I’m wonder who are these Beau Marks? anyone can help me, it will be appriciate.
Sorry, we do not have that information.
I was in the band Barry Lewis was in. It was called the Confederation Band. A collection of six musicians. I was the drummer. From the fall of 1970 to late ‘71 or early 1972. Incidentally, Sonny Milne was the drummer in the band Ray put together after us.
We rehearsed at Ray’s farm in Peterborough for six weeks before we started out on the road with him. The band had a horn section, and each musician also doubled on another instrument.
We did play the Savarin for New Years of 1970, in fact, Ray was booked there numerous times with the band, as he had been for many years before our time with him.
We played in many very nice ‘rooms’ in Ontario: the Seaway in Windsor, Diamond Jim’s in Hamilton, The Iroquois in London, at the Miss Diana in Peterborough. Also, establishments I can’t recall In Chatham, Sarnia, Ajax, Oshawa, Brantford, and others.
When we played in Montreal, it was at the Cafe Du Les (sp), in Ray’s old neighbourhood at Pie-IX and Norte Dame. It was, to say the least, a very interesting establishment.
It was with this band that Ray travelled to and played at the El Conquistador Resort in Puerto Rico. We were there for four weeks, if memory serves me corrrect.
Ray also recorded at Toronto Sound during my time with the band. His composition, ‘This Feeling” was made there. There were four sides made into 45’s. I don’t recall the other names, but, one had a string quartet as accompaniment.
I don’t have copies of the 45’s but if digitized versions show up here as a result of my post, I would be very pleased.
We also played the O’Keefe Centre (renamed the Hummingbird) as an opening act for Dionne Warwick. More to that story for some other time, perhaps.
Ray was a gentleman and I enjoyed my time with him. He was approachable and I enjoyed many conversations and good laughs with him. Anytime I was not working and he was playing nearby I would go out to see him perform. He always would introduce me from the stage (a bonus if I was with a date … lol) and invite me backstage to meet his current band.
Fond memories indeed.
Rick (RC) Baker
Cafe de L’est was the name of the dive on Notre dame east near pie ix. Used to go there often in 1965 to see Ray perform with Dave Nichols and the Coins. Dave’s younger brother is Alan Nichols the former front man for JB and the Playboys a top drawer cover band in Montreal around the same time. They and a group called the Sceptres were number 1 and 2 bands of that era playing Montreal, Laurentians, New York State, Ottawa and the eastern townships to mention just a few. Alan Nichols went on to star on Broadway in Hair and had a long career in the movies but behind the camera.
Hi Fred, We are good friends of Ray’s and my husband Paul just visited him in January (before the shutdown) at his place in Peterborough. We also knew Dave well and some time ago we were putting together a group with Dave and his guitar player Steve and Steve’s wife Annie just before Dave passed away. Also met Alan a few times when we were with his and Dave’s Mom Frankie. We followed Ray for many years and he is doing very well – just turned 80 last year.
Thanks for the update, Lynn!
Didn’t know that Dave had died. I didn’t know him but sure enjoyed watching him and the band perform back in the day!
Ray was a great guy and friend.I recorded one of his last club sessions on Airport Road in Toronto. Also, the clapping was placed on the Clap your Hands recording in St-Jean, Quebec.We had access to Radio Station CHRS and added the clapping there.It took a number of hours to get it the way the band wanted it. The master was then taken to Quality Records in Montreal and the rest is history.
Very interesting experience you have had there. Thank you for sharing!
Paul and I had lunch with Ray a few weeks ago to celebrate his birthday. He is in great spirits and continues to paint, another of his loves besides singing and writing.
Thanks a million for the good news.Is he at the same home?
Yes he is still there. That’s where we had lunch with him. If you’re in the area and know Ray, I’m sure he’d love to see you. By the way was it at the Hacienda that you last saw him perform. We were there a couple of times during his final stint there and then had him back to do a few shows at a sportsbar on Airport Road (the name escapes us). Do you have any copies of that last recording you did of Ray? If so, we would be interested for ourselves and Ray.
I live in a retirement home in Georgetown. I gave a copy of the video to Graham Hart to give to Ray. I will see if I still have a copy. I also don’t remember the name of the club. That night there were mainly Ray’s fans there. Dave Nichols was there and he sang Cara-Mia. Ray just had a keyboard player with him.He was at the club for 2 nights and we attended both nights. Being from Montreal I saw a lot of the group in the early days from a show in NDG to the long stay they had at the Riverview Hotel in Bedford, Que. If you check my Facebook you will find a picture of Ray and Mike with us Down at Baie Mississquoi.
I’ll search for the video and get back to you.
I just discovered this website by accident. I’d like to get in touch with the 2 surviving members of the Beau Marks. Can anyone be of help? Please do not hesitate to get in touch.
I have heard that Ray Hutchinson is living in Peterborough, ON in a retirement home.
That’s the only information I have.
Email us @ firstname.lastname@example.org to give us some info re your request to communicate. We are in touch with Ray. Thanks and best
Thanks, Lynn & Paul for following up on our reader’s request.
And please wish Ray all the best from me. These are challenging times!!
We will let Ray know. And you are so right, this is like residing in the Twilight Zone. Wondering what the ‘new normal’ will be like down the road. All the best to you and stay well.
Thank you so much for the replies. I will get in touch.
Hi My name is Michel Beaudoin, I host a radio show in Magdelein Islands, P.Q. ( CFIM 92.7) I had the opportunity and honor to interview Ray Hutchinson for my radio show ” HOMMAGE ”. I also interviewed Paul Coulter his best friend and former manager.
If I am not mistaking those interviews were the latest one of Ray. He is a great personnality and a very kind person. This interview will stay in my forever.