Born in Saint-Raymond de Portneuf, Luc Plamondon grew up on the farm where his father raised horses. His aunt Augustine, the village church organist, taught Luc the piano at an early age and encouraged him to play roles in operettas she put together at the local church hall. At the top of his class in school, he attended the Séminaire de Québec at twelve years of age. In his teens and pursuing his classical studies at Jesuit College in the early sixties, he discovered artists from Aznavour to Gainsbourg, the greats of French song, while dancing to the rhythms of rock ‘n’ roll and Elvis Presley. He secretly began writing songs and plays. It was at that time that he experienced his first defining moment of musical theatre, when he saw Bertold Brecht and Kurt Weill’s ‘Opéra de Quat-sous’ at the Théâtre Capitole.
After earning his Bachelor’s Degree in teaching at the University of Laval, he studied literature at the University of Montreal, art history at The Louvre in Paris, languages in Madrid, Rome, London (where he was seduced by the music of the Rolling Stones and the Beatles) and finally in Berlin, where he discovered opera. He then spent a year travelling through the United Sates. He stayed in New York for a time, gorging himself on musical theatre productions, and then moved on to San Francisco, where he immediately fell under the spell of ‘Hair’, the first musical rock opera. This lit the spark that led him to write ‘Starmania’ some ten years later, which was produced in Paris by none other than…Tom O’Horgan, famous director of the original production of ‘Hair’.
Upon his return to Montreal in 1970, he wrote his first song, Dans ma camaro, with music by André Gagnon. Then came Les chemins d’été, recorded in 1970 by the popular star of the day Steve Fiset, which was an instant hit and triggered a craze that summer, being played over 25,000 times and then being included into the Classiques SOCAN. Throughout his career, 29 of Plamondon’s songs have made it into the Classiques SOCAN, making him the most honoured Canadian artist in this regard.
His career as a songwriter began in earnest while working with the great diva Monique Leyrac, who taught him the trade. His work with Renée Claude, the popular pop star of the era, cemented his desire to pursue a career as a lyricist. But it was Diane Dufresne who became his favourite recording artist to work with and for whom he eventually wrote 75 songs. With François Cousineau as a partner, they were the ‘dream team’. Considered to be the first French language rock lyricist, he was called upon, in the eighties, to work with the likes of Julien Clerc, Catherine Lara, Robert Charlebois, Nanette Workman, Johnny Hallyday, as well as pop stars including Ginette Reno, Nicole Croisille, and Petula Clark. His career as lyricist reached an all-time high in 1992 with ‘Dion chante Plamondon’, a tribute album recorded by Céline Dion. Two million copies of the album sold throughout the world. L’amour existe encore remains Luc’s personal favourite among all the songs he’s written. Luc Plamondon’s career as a songwriter slowly moved on to that of writing dramatic musical productions.
In addition to ‘Starmania’, he has written five other musical comedies, which were all produced in Paris: ‘Lili Passion’, in collaboration with Barbara and interpreted by Barbara and Gérard Depardieu; ‘La Légende de Jimmy’ in 1990; ‘Sand et les Romantiques in 1992; ‘Cindy’ in 2002; and of course ‘Notre-Dame de Paris’ directed by Gilles Maheu, which has been garnering international success for several decades.
All these shows were instrumental in launching the singing careers of many artists, both in France and in Quebec, including Fabienne Thibeault, Daniel Balavoine, Martine St-Clair, Marie Carmen, Jean Leloup, Marie Denise Pelletier, Isabelle Boulay, Bruno Pelletier, Luce Dufault, Natasha St-Pier, Patrick Fiori, Hèlène Segara and Garou.
Luc Plamondon was made Chevalier de l’Ordre national du Québec in 1989, Officer of the Order of Canada in 2002, and Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur in France in 1994.
Recipient of an Honourary Doctorate of Arts from the University of Laval – as well as the Medal of the City of Paris, the Governor General of Canada Award, the Pléiade Award for the promotion of La Francophonie, and the Prix du Français dans la Culture (Québec) – he was the first Quebecois to be inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1999. He received the World Music Award (in Monaco) for the global success of ‘Notre-Dame de Paris’ and the MIDEM Award (in Cannes) for his career as lyricist, which also resulted in his being awarded several Felix Awards in Quebec and Victoires de la musique awards in France.
Luc Plamondon is also well known as an ardent defender of copyrights and a great advocate of the French language.