Michel Pagliaro

At one time, it was believed that Michel Pagliaro would become an international rock star. Then he disappeared, long enough to become a true artist.
—Hélène de Billy
Born: 1948 in Montréal
Debut: 1966
Genre: Pop / Rock
– Governor General’s Performing Arts Award (2008)
– Wrote the biggest-selling single in Quebec history
– The first Canadian act to score Gold records in both official languages
Biggest Hit:
“J’entends Frapper” (1973)
– Biggest-selling single in Quebec history
– 3 Weeks at #1
Some Other Hits:
– “Comme d’habitude” (1966)
– “Le p’tit poppy” (1966)
– “A t’aimer” (1969)
– “J’ai marché pour une nation” (1969)
– “Give Us One More Chance” (1970)
– “M’Lady” (1971)
– “Lovin’ You Ain’t Easy” (1971) <#15 RPM, #31 UK>
– “Mon Coeur” (1972) – #2
– “Rainshowers” (1972) <#35 RPM>
– “Some Sing, Some Dance” (1972)
– “Fou de toi” (1973)
– “What the Hell I Got” (1975)
– “Louise” (1975)
– “Emeute dans la prison” (1975)
– “Dock Of The Bay” (1977)
– “Le temps presse” (1977) <24th of the year CKOI>
– “Le soleil pour des lunes” / “Travailler” (1981) <25th of the year CKOI>
– “Bamboo” / “Romantique” (1981)
– “L’espion” (1988) – Top 10
– “Coup de Coeur” <50th of the year CKOI>
Michel Pagliaro is one of the few Canadian acts who has scored hits in both official languages. He was the first to score Gold records in both English and French. He had mastered the guitar by age 11 and in his mid-teens played in a number of bands. At 18, he became the replacement bass guitarist for a major band called Les Chancelliers, later becoming its lead singer. The group hit the charts in 1966 with “Le P’tit Poppy”. Two years later, Pagliaro decided to go solo and released several singles including the original French version of “My Way” (“Comme d’habitude”). Initially he recorded French adaptations of English hits but soon he was composing his own numbers, like the rock and roll anthem “J’ai marche pour une nation”.
In the early ’70s, he signed a record deal that enabled him to spread out into English Canada, scoring biggest with “Lovin’ You Ain’t Easy”. He recorded and English album that spawned a couple of hit singles and soon he became a household name from coast to coast. The success in English Canada steeled his resolve to do better in his own Province and he recorded the Chuck Berry-ish “J’entends frapper” which became the biggest-selling 7-inch single in Quebec history The song was so catchy that some Ontario (English) radio stations aired it and it managed to reach #1 in Kingston. It even charted on RPM (unusual for a Franco song).
It was time to swing back to a successful English song and he accomplished this mid-decade with “What the Hell I Got”. He began extensive touring and performed at Toronto’s CNE with Peter Frampton. He began releasing English and French albums simultaneously. Some songs on the “twin” albums were translations of each other while others were unique to the album. This is a technique that is used today in Hong Kong with Cantonese and Mandarin. After 1976, however, “Pag” was finding it difficult to maintain success in English Canada and began focusing more on French songs and albums to cater to Quebecers who were bigger fans.
In the early ’80s, Pag, to keep up with the times, released some punkish / new wave albums. He moved to France to help produce for pop star Jacques Higelin, returning to Canada in 1987. He was chosen as David Bowie’s opening act at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium. His last significant hit followed: “L’espion” which cracked the Top-10 in Quebec. Since then he has made the occasional guest appearance and some compilation albums of his material have been released. Various artists released a tribute album of covers of his songs in 2015.