“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 /