Everybody knows the story of Beau Dommage. Rejected by practically all record labels, the band finally recorded for Capitol in 1974 and their first album sold 100,000 copies in just a few weeks, but not only that, every single song on that album is considered a classic. The whirlwind lasted four years, and the exhausted band members needed a break. They made a triumphant stage comeback in 1984 and released a remarkable album in 1994, which was followed by a sold-out tour in Québec and Europe. Since then, the enthusiastic response to every single—and rare—appearance by Beau Dommage has confirmed their status as a cult group for people of many generations.
Their secret ingredient? Beau Dommage doesn’t use stage costumes or flamboyant special effects. Beau Dommage is a vessel for its songs. Most bands rely on one or two songwriters. Beau Dommage had FIVE, plus a lyricist, Pierre Huet, who was never on stage and who wrote roughly a third of the band’s songs. Michel Rivard, Pierre Bertrand and Marie Michèle Desrosiers have all enjoyed brilliant solo careers as songwriters since the ’80s. Classically trained musicians, Robert Léger and Michel Hinton composed many of the band’s beautiful songs. It is precisely this great diversity of creative sources that allowed Beau Dommage access to such a rich palette of musical styles. But there’s more.
Beau Dommage always was, and still is, a co-op. All the band’s songs belong to every band member and their royalties are split evenly among all of them. After all, a song is more than just lyrics and music. Inside Beau Dommage, it belongs to the whole band, and everyone decides its arrangements and who is going to sing it. Vocal harmonies, a trademark of the band, instrumentation and rhythms are all decided in a collegial manner. Beau Dommage is renowned for their attention to detail, both in the studio and on stage. And the audience appreciates the simplicity, the obvious camaraderie and joy those artists find in singing their songs.
Each of these artists has their own individuality, but when they get together, they become Beau Dommage, a many-headed songster that transcends generations and has earned a well-deserved place in the Canadian Songwriter’s Hall of Fame.