The Beau-Marks / Ray Hutchinson

By Gary:

“This is a Canadian group Canadian_flag_small 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 …

The Beau-Marks

Named after the Bomarc missile

 

The Beau-Marks were:

  • Joey Frechette – piano and lead vocal (1939)
  • Ray Hutchinson – Lead guitar and vocals (1941)
  • 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

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Now under the new name “The Beau Marks

2. Clap your Hands / the original recording is rare. It was recorded without the hand clappers. / Quality K1966/ April 1960/ #46
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2a. Clap your Hands / with hand clapping / it was changed to add the hand clappers when it was released in the US. This is the story and I remember; they booked studio time (they wrote, recorded and paid for all of their recordings) they were finished, but they had some studio time left.  Ray suggested to Joey that they record the Clap your Hands Song, but Joey said that nobody would like it.  Well, Ray won and the rest is history.  I do not know where it was recorded, but I believe a Quality Studio, so that would have been Toronto.
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3A. Billy, Billy Went A Walking/ Quality 1219X/ November 1960/ #39
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4. Honey Don’t you Cry/ from the High Flying Beau Marks Album/ 1960/
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From the Live Album, which I was there for in 1961

BeauMarksLive

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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

THE BEAU-MARKS

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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Part 2 /
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–o–

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18 responses to “The Beau-Marks / Ray Hutchinson

  1. Pingback: Bob Shad – The Time / Brent / Shad Story | Russ & Gary's "The Best Years of Music"

  2. Really trying to find Joe Frechette/Conrad. Lost track of him around 1990 when CHOO/Ajax was still around.

  3. Pingback: 1960 entertainer who played at the Grange in Hamilton who used a cane | Toronto's Secret

    • 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.
      Gary

  4. Pingback: Ray Hutchinson | peterderemigis

  5. 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.
    Norman
    oakplank@vianet.ca

    • Hi Norman
      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.
        Norman

  6. 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.

  7. Is Ray Hutchinson still in a home in Peterboro Ont.

    • Not sure where but Sonny visits him.

      • Norman Leger

        The last address I have for Ray is;
        Rubidge Retirement Residence
        246 RubidgeSt.
        Peterborough. ON
        K9J 3P2

        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.

        Norman
        May 3, 2017

  8. 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.

    Laz
    Ottawa

    • Good to hear from you Laz.

    • Hi 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.
      Norman Leger
      oakplank@vianet.ca

  9. 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.

  10. Stan Sheppard.

    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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