Over 50 years since his hit song first hit the airwaves, Joe Frechette looks back on his time with the Beau Marks fondly.
Formed by Frechette in 1958 in Montreal, the Beau Marks had a brief run in the music industry, but in their short time managed to do what other bands at that time had not.
“It went to number one in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and top 20 in the US charts,” said Frechette.
“We were really lucky because this was unheard of for a Canadian group at that time.”
The song he refers to, Clap Your Hands, was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters’ Hall of Fame in 2005 and in 2011 was awarded the Socan Classic Award for having 100,000 Canadian radio plays.
“I wrote it in 10 minutes,” laughed Frechette, adding that it was written particularly for audience participation in a bar.
“The rule of thumb in the 1950s was to keep it under three minutes, make sure it rhymed and make sure it was danceable,” he said.
“Everything that happened to us and everything that happened in the music business for me happened before there was any Canadian content rules for radio. There was hardly any music industry in Canada.”
A 30 per cent Canadian content ruling for Canadian radio had not yet been established.
“We were pioneers in that sense,” said Frechette, adding that is was something the group never anticipated.
“Who would have thought that four young kids from Montreal going into a recording studio with no money and laying down tracks without knowing what a mix was would suddenly get lucky with it.”
Frechette, 24 at the time, was the band’s front man and did double duty for the band between singing and keyboard.
“We were not good musicians. It’s a one hit wonder situation, but it’s a pioneer situation,” said Frechette. “The band was the vehicle for the song. The song got the awards, the band — we had a good time,” he laughed.
The Beau Marks were together for five years before the members went separate ways. Frechette stayed in the music industry and began working for Columbia Records, now known as Sony, as a promotions manager.
Since then, Frechette has retired and settled in Nelson, although these days he’s not doing much singing.
“It’s something I had the buzz for when it was happening, now it’s over,” he said, but as it was happening for Frechette and the rest of his band, they took it all in.
“One of the biggest kicks I had in all of this was the first time I heard it on the radio,” said Frechette, who at the time probably didn’t think it would air another 99,999 times.