Alannah Myles

Born: 1958, Toronto
Debut: 1989
Genre: Pop / Rock

Achievements

– 2 major Juno Awards: Song of the Year (“Black Velvet”) and Album of the Year (Self-Titled), 1990
– Grammy Award (U.S.) for Best Female Rock Performance (“Black Velvet”), 1990
– First female Canadian artist to score a Diamond album in Canada
– 9 Top 40 Singles, including 4 Top 10s, 1 of which was #1

Biggest Hit Single Domestically

Song Instead of a Kiss
– Peaked at #1 on the RPM Weekly Singles Chart
– Finished in the Year-End Top 100 two years in a row

Biggest Hit Single Internationally

Black Velvet
– Peak Positions on the Weekly Charts: #10 Canada; #1 U.S., #2 U.K., #3 Australia, #3 Netherlands
– 81st biggest song of the year in Canada
– 18th biggest song of the year in the U.S.

Studio Albums and Hit Singles

1989: Alannah Myles

– Certified Diamond
– 6 million copies sold worldwide
– Hit Singles: “Love Is” (#16 CAN; #12 Australia; #36 U.S.), “Black Velvet” (See Above), “Still Got This Thing” (#28), “Lover of Mine” (#2 WP; #16 YE)

1992: Rockinghorse

– 2x Platinum
– Hit Singles: “Song Instead of a Kiss” (#1), “Our World, Our Times” (#27), “Living on a Memory” (#31), “Sonny Say You Will” (#23)

1995: A-lan-nah

– Hit Singles: “Family Secret” (#10 WP; #76 YE)

1997: Arrival

2008: Black Velvet


With names like Ginette Reno, Diane Dufresne, Diane Tell, Martine Saint-Clair, Mitsou, Patsy Gallant, Marjo, Véronique Béliveau, and Celine Dion, Canada’s Francophone community was way ahead of the game in terms of women in rock. Anglophone women had dabbled in the genre but becoming a superstar had meant, for the gender, performing country, folk, or adult contemporary tunes.

The 1980s saw male rock superstars Bryan Adams, Corey Hart, Gowan, and Tom Cochrane. Arguably, the first female to enjoy significant success was Luba. It appeared the door was now open. British import Sass Jordan with a couple of considerable hits was set up to enjoy further success in the next decade.

As we were heading into the 90s, though, no-one could have anticipated what was about to happen.

Alannah Myles was born to a father in radio, producer of “The Happy Gang”. Her mother was a pianist and singer. When she was a child, she knew she wanted to be a singer despite discouragement from her parents to pursue it as a profession. At age 11, she took up the guitar. By the age of 15, she was writing her own songs emulating her favourite folk artists Leonard Cohen, Linda Ronstadt, and Joni Mitchell. She got herself an agent in 1977 and played her songs around Toronto. To earn extra money, she did some television work, doing ads. She also worked as a backup singer and model. In the mid-80s, she hooked up with songwriter Christopher Ward and began performing some of his songs. The music industry rejected her outright; no record company was interested. Eventually, Bob Roper at WEA (Warner-Elektra-Atlantic) approached her after listening to her demo and signed her. David Tyson was chosen to produce her first (self-titled) album. She entered the recording studio with Christopher Ward who was to be a video jockey for MuchMusic.

The album was released and MuchMusic immediately played the music video for the first single “Love Is”. To the Canadian public, this sultry female rocker seemed to come out of nowhere. The entire nation was captivated. The single was aired on radio stations and peaked at #16 across the country. The second single, a tribute to American singer Elvis Presley called “Black Velvet” did even better, scraping the Top 10. It also became an international hit, topping the Billboard charts in the United States and the Top 3 in Britain and Australia. The song won the Juno for Song of the Year and a Grammy award in the U.S. Two more singles were released from the album, one of which was her biggest hit at home; “Lover of Mine” peaked at #2 and became the 16th biggest song of 1990. As for the album, it became the third from a Canadian artist, first for a female, and first as a debut to attain Diamond sales in Canada. It won Album of the Year at the Junos

The press did not take kindly to black leather-clad Myles, calling her cocky, arrogant, and trouble. She went on tour with a backing band and made appearances with Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant, Simple Minds, and Tina Turner.

Alannah returned to the studio with Tyson and Ward to record her sophomore effort, Rockinghorse. Not as big a hit as her first album, it still managed double-platinum sales, thanks mostly to “Song Instead of a Kiss” her first #1 hit in Canada. Her manager went to work for another record company which created turmoil and a conflict of interest. Producer Miles Copeland (brother of The Police’s Stewart Copeland) got in touch with her and offered to take over her management.

She released A-lan-nah in 1995. The album resulted in a Top 10 hit but sales of her albums were continuing to decline. She released her fourth album Arrival in 1997. Although it was hailed by rock critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine as her best album, the single “Bad 4 You” stalled at #45 on the RPM Singles Chart. And now Myles found herself without a recording contract.

In a 2008 CBC interview, Alannah said she had naively signed a record contract with Atlantic that left her cut out from virtually all the profits generated by her own records. “I had no business sense of protecting myself financially. … And I allowed people to manipulate me. … The lawyer got his bill paid but didn’t make sure my cross-collateralization deal was settled. The record company made 160 million dollars and I still am paying back my portion of what it cost me to make those three records I made for them.”

As a result, she said she wasn’t living the wealthy rock star lifestyle. “There was times that I wondered how I was going to pay my rent.”

Myles sued the National Post (newspaper) for publishing a libellous article on her and, with the settlement money, financed her first studio album in over a decade—Black Velvet, named in honour of her biggest international hit.

Although her career was filled with troubles, Myles had been Canada’s first female rock superstar. And many more were about to arise in the 1990s, putting male soloists pretty much out of commission.

    

Alannah Myles’ Official Website is HERE.

Copyright 2011 Canadian Music Blog

Roch Voisine

Born: 1963, St. Basile, New Brunswick
Debut: 1986
Breakthrough: 1989
Genre: Adult Contemporary / Pop

Achievements

– Diamond Album in France: Hélène, 1989
– 66th biggest-selling artist of all-time in France (4th best-selling Canadian)
– Francophone Album of the year award at France’s Victoires de la musique
– 8 million albums sold worldwide
– 4 Multi-Platinum and 3 Platinum albums in Canada
– Male Artist of the Year Juno Award, 1994
– Five Major Felix Awards

Major Félix Awards

– Song of the Year, 1989: “Hélène”
– Male Artist of the Year, 1989
– Album Artist of the Year, 1990
– Song of the Year, 1993: “La légende Oochigeas”
– Male Artist of the Year, 1995

Studio Albums and Hit Singles¹

1986: Sweet Songs
1987: Roch Voisine

1989: Hélène

– 3x Platinum
– Diamond in France
– Hit Singles: “Hélène“, “Pourtant”, “Avant de partir”

1990: Double²

– 2x Platinum (Canada and France)
– Hit Singles: “Darlin'”, “La berceuse du petit diable”, “La promesse”, “Pretty Face”, “On the Outside”, “Waiting”, “A Fishing Day”

1993: I’ll Always Be There

– 4x Platinum
– Hit Singles: “Oochigeas (Indian Song)”³, “I’ll Always Be There“, “There’s No Easy Way”, “Lost Without You”, Shout Out Loud”, “Am I Wrong”, “She Picked on Me”, “For Adam’s Sake”, “Heaven or Hell”
 

1994: Coup de tête

– Platinum
– Hit Singles: “Laisse-la rêver”, “Jean Johnny Jean”.

1996: Kissing Rain

– Platinum
– Hit Singles: “Kissing Rain”, “Deliver Me”, “Shed a Light”, “With These Eyes”, “Love Never Dies”

1999: Chaque feu…
2000: L’album de Noël
2000: Christmas is Calling
2001: Éponyme Roch Voisine
2002: Higher
2003: Je te serai fidèle
2005: Sauf si l’amour…

2008: Americana

– Platinum

2009: Americana II
2010: Americana III

2010: Confidenes

Roch Voisine - Confidences

2014: Movin’ On Maybe

Roch Voisine - Movin' On Maybe

¹ As he had hits on various charts—French, English, Quebec, Canada, France, Pop, AC, country, etc.—we’re not listing the peak positions
² This was a double bilingual album. Disc 1 contained French songs, Disc 2 English songs. A self-titled (single) album was also released which had the same content as the English disc of Double. This English-only album was certified 3x Platinum in Canada.
³ The French version, “La légende Oochigeas”, was a hit single from an earlier live album
⁴ Contains six new songs and nine revamped hits

Coming from Quebec, we had known several popular singers, and even some headliners. With Roch Voisine, for the first time, we have a star. A real star. Of the kind that unleashes uncontrolled and simultaneous commotion in thousands of teenage girls.
         —Louis-Bernard Robitaille, La Presse, Montreal (on Voisine’s success in Europe)

It had always been easier for Canadian artists to do well in the U.S. than the United Kingdom, despite Canada’s belonging to the Commonwealth. Europe had often been a tough nut to crack. It was even harder for Francophone artists. Canada’s hypocrisy in calling itself bilingual and then refusing to give airplay to French Canadian songs on English radio stations meant that Francophone artists could only sell records to the few million people in Québec. Although Quebecers tended to support their artists magnanimously by buying more records than their Anglophone counterparts, it was still a market not large enough to earn a decent living. Many Quebec artists branched out by publishing books, acting, and putting on extra shows and concerts.

A number of Francophone artists released English albums for English Canada to savour. Unfortunately, for unknown reasons, English Canada, with the odd exception, paid little attention to these. It would have been more strategic for them to release their debuts in English first and, once they saw success, release a French album. But it took a long time, through experimentations and failures, for such a truth to come to light.

Like Anglophones, Francophones were also finding it difficult to break out in Europe. But they didn’t have the option of making names for themselves in the United States. To make decent money, they needed to sell lots of albums in France (not to mention Switzerland, Belgium, etc.) whose population was eight times that of Quebec’s. The chances of a French Canadian album going Platinum in France were remote; going Diamond was a pipe dream.

But everything changed in 1989. A fluently bilingual Canadian born in New Brunswick, raised in Quebec, and university-educated in Ottawa released a French language album. It was a hit in Quebec, a hit in Belgium, a hit in Switzerland, and was certified Diamond in France. Later on, he became one of the few Canadian artists to match his success in English Canada with English language albums and singles. His name is Roch Voisine.

Roch Voisine was born as the oldest of three children in New Brunswick and grew up speaking both English and French. His parents divorced when he was four and his paternal grandparents helped raise him. He moved in with his father when he was eight. When he was 12, the family moved to Notre-Dame-du-Lac, northeast of Quebec City. He pursued a career in hockey, joining Quebec City’s Remparts, but a knee injury during a baseball game in 1981 dashed his hopes. He began studying physiotherapy at the University of Ottawa and wrote songs with former hockey buddy Stephan Lessard. Lessard’s uncle, Paul Vincent, was a disc jockey, so they called him up for help in recording a demo tape. Vincent had the right connections and they were able to complete the demo for only $50 because the recording engineer was amused by two former hockey players performing music.

Vincent listened to the result and wanted to sign Voisine but felt he was too young and should finish school first. Voisine graduated in 1985 after writing more songs. Two English albums were made of his material but were ignored by the industry. He gave his first public performance during Canada Day in 1986 before a crowd of 50,000 at La Ronde amusement park in Montreal. In 1988, a television station asked him to host “Top jeunesse”, a variety show for teen-agers.

Roch called Vincent and asked him for further assistance, as he wanted to take the next step and make a hit single. Vincent took on the role of Voisine’s manager. Les Disque Star in Quebec was mesmerized with him but suggested that he stick to French language records and try to tackle Quebec and possibly France first.

In 1989, Voisine spent 500 hours recording the romantic ballad “Hélène” on acoustic guitar for his forthcoming album. He had co-written the song with his old hockey buddy Lessard. Les Disque Star heavily promoted the song and, before it was released to the public, it already had 40,000 advance orders in Quebec. The record company, excited with this, pressed Voisine into finishing the recording of the album in three weeks. The single was launched in Quebec and France. It won the Felix Song of the Year award, and helped the album top the singles chart in France (not to mention Belgium, Switzerland, and Norway) for nine straight weeks, sell 3x Platinum in Canada and become the first Canadian Franco album in history to be certified Diamond in France. Not bad for a debut.

Roch wanted to conquer the English market in Canada but had to play it safe. It had been attempted before with little success. The strategy implemented was releasing a double album with one disc of French songs and a second of English songs. If English Canada didn’t respond to the English songs, at least the Francophones would buy the album for the French songs. The album was entitled Double. The strategy proved wise. He did get airplay in English Canada but on the AC (and country) radio stations. On their charts, his biggest hit was “On the Outside” (#5). This was enough success to release only the English disc as a separate album; it was self-titled. Double was certified 2x Platinum, selling 700,000 copies in Europe, and Roch Voisine 3x Platinum. Roch was offered a role in the CBC TV mini-series “Lance et compte” (“He Shoots, He Scores”).

He proceeded to France becoming the first Canadian French performer to do a four-night run at the Zénith in Paris. He held 38 concerts in Europe in 1991 including appearances in the United Kingdom, Germany, and Italy. Roch returned to Europe in 1992 for three months that included a show at the Eiffel Tower grounds (Champ de Mars) before a crowd of 75,000. The show was broadcast live and reached 14 million viewers. He took part in the Canada Day celebrations in 1992, joining producer David Foster on Parliament Hill. They co-wrote a song together called “I’ll Always Be There” and performed it in front of Queen Elizabeth II in honour of Canada’s 125th birthday

In 1993, Voisine’s English breakthrough album, I’ll Always Be There, came out. It included the title-track song with Foster which made the RPM year-end charts for both 1993 and 1994. “Lost Without You” also made the year-end chart. The album was certified 4x Platinum. He had now conquered English Canada.

He returned to doing a French album: Coup de Tete came out in 1994 and spawned two hit singles. Two years later he signed a lucrative recording contract with BMG and, after settling in Los Angeles, recorded and released the English album Kissing Rain. The title-track was another big hit in Canada. He married Myriam Saint-Jean in 2002 and had two children. The couple separated in 2007, the same year that Voisine was given an honourary doctorate in music by the Univerity of Moncton.

Although Roch’s popularity has eased up since the Kissing Rain years, he has continued releasing albums, alternating between French and English. His French language work has continued to enjoy airplay in Europe (especially France) and Quebec, while his English-language recordings are a staple of Canadian adult contemporary radio.

     

Why was Roch Voisine so successful?

Voisine was one of the few bilingual artists successful in French Canada, English Canada, and France / Europe. Why was he able to outdo other artists and accomplish such widespread popularity? Here are the results of our analysis:

1. He has an amazingly beautiful voice.
2. He was born outside of Quebec perhaps giving his English music more credibility in English Canada
3. His songs are lighter, more on the adult contemporary side, making them appealing to people of all ages
4. He is fluently bilingual with no accent in either language giving him more credibility when interviewed
5. He collaborated with big-name producer David Foster

C’est tout.

Roch Voisine’s Official Website is HERE.

Copyright 2011 Canadian Music Blog

Tom Cochrane (and Red Rider)

Born: 1953, Lynn Lake, Manitoba
Debut: 1974
Breakthrough: 1980
Superstardom: 1988
Genre: Pop

Achievements

– Diamond Album (Mad Mad World, 1991)
– 16 Top 40 Singles, including 9 in the Top 10, and 2 #1’s
– Star on Canada’s Walk of Fame (2009)
– Induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame (2003)
– 4 major Juno Awards

Major Juno Awards

– Group of the Year (Tom Cochrane & Red Rider), 1987
– Male Artist of the Year, 1992
– Song of the Year (“Life is a Highway”), 1992
– Album of the Year (Mad Mad World), 1992

Studio Albums and Hit Singles

Early Years

1974: Hang on to Your Resistance

Red Rider

1980: Don’t Fight It

– Hit Single: “White Hot” (#20)

1981: As Far as Siam

1983: Neruda

– Hit Single: “Human Race” (#29)

1984: Breaking Curfew

Tom Cochrane & Red Rider

1986: Tom Cochrane & Red Rider

– Hit Singles: “Boy Inside the Man” (#25)

1988: Victory Day

– Hit Singles: “Big League” (#4 WP; n/a YE), “Good Times” (#2 WP; #36 YE), “Victory Day” (#32)

Tom Cochrane

1991: Mad Mad World

– Certified Diamond
– Hit Singles: “Life Is a Highway” (#1 WP; #5 YE; #6 U.S.), “No Regrets” (#3 WP; n/a YE), “Sinking Like a Sunset” (#2 WP; n/a YE), “Mad Mad World” (#25), “Washed Away” (#7 WP; n/a YE)

1995: Ragged Ass Road

– Hit Singles: “I Wish You Well” (#1 WP; #4 YE), “Wildest Dreams” (#5 WP; #49 YE), “Dreamer’s Dream” (#4 WP; #37 YE), “Crawl” (#11 WP; #90 YE)

1999: X-Ray Sierra

– Hit Singles: “Willie Dixon Said”

2006: No Stranger

Notes:

WP = Peak on Weekly Singles Charts.
YE = Position on the Year-End Singles Chart.
n/a YE = Finished in Year-End Top 100 but position unknown as the chart is currently unavailable for that year.
All Canadian chart positions published by RPM Magazine.
All U.S. chart positions published by Billboard Magazine.

While most members of rock bands see their success diminish when they go solo, the opposite was true for Manitoba-born Tom Cochrane who became the next big male pop star in Canada after Hart, Adams, and Gowan with two Top 5 hits in late 1988 / early 1989. His Mad Mad World, released in 1991, eventually reached Diamond status, selling a million copies domestically.

Tom Cochrane was born in the small mining town of Lynn Lake in north-western Manitoba. His father was a bush pilot. When he was 4 his family relocated to Acton, Ontario and then the Toronto suburb of Etobicoke. When he was 11, he sold his toy train set to buy a guitar and after school began playing folk music in cafes across Canada. An album of his material was released in 1974 (re-released later after his breakthrough). He went down to Los Angeles (U.S.) to write music for movies but earned little income. He returned to Toronto and drove a cab before taking a job on a Caribbean cruise liner.

In 1976, he returned to Los Angeles working as a dishwasher and for a delivery company while trying to peddle his songs to record companies. Without any luck, he returned to Toronto again.

One fateful night in 1978, Cochrane walked into the El Mocambo Tavern in Toronto and met the band Red Rider. The band was looking for a lead singer who could also help with song-writing and Tom fit the bill. He called his friend Deane Cameron at Capitol Records and some politics was played out. He suggested the band get Rush manager Ray Danniels to represent them but when Danniels tried to sign them onto his own Anthem label, Cameron drafted them onto Capitol. Meanwhile, managerial high-flier Bruce Allen requested Capitol take on emerging band Prism. Cameron swung a deal saying he would sign Prism on condition that Allen manage Red Rider.

The debut release Don’t Fight It appeared in 1980 and spawned the Top 20 hit “White Hot” about poet Arthur Rimbaud and his travels through Africa. Although they saw no further hit singles from subsequent albums, aside from the Top 30 “Human Race” off their Neruda album (named after the South American poet), airplay of songs on album-oriented rock stations across Canada helped keep record sales respectable. By the mid-80s, however, the band had run out of steam, not having been able to repeat their early success. Apparently, the pressure resulted in a fist-fight among band members and crew. Red Rider dissolved and departed Bruce Allen’s camp which was devoting more attention to Loverboy and Bryan Adams.

Cochrane and Red Rider’s guitarist Ken Greer maintained a working relationship and recruited ex-Streetheart bassist Ken “Spider” Sinnaeve. A change of scenery was called-for and they headed over to Dave Edmund’s Rockfield Studios in Wales.

Cochrane was beginning to hit his stride. The album entitled Tom Cochrane & Red Rider yielded the radio hit “Boy Inside the Man” and won for them a Juno for Group of the Year. With much musical experience (13 years), Tom was asked to produce The Grapes of Wrath’s Treehouse album. Encouraged by the progress, he recruited keyboardist John Webster and John Cougar Mellencamp producer Don Gehman and put his heart and soul into Victory Day. Everything fell into place and two songs off the album broke into the Top 5. In “Big Leauge” he sang about a rising hockey star killed in a car crash. The story was used to convey the message that exporting Canadian talent to the United States was ultimately unsatisfying. The song peaked at #4 on the RPM charts. The follow-up “Good Times”, peaking at #2, was the biggest Canadian song of 1989, beating out Kim Mitchell, Jeff Healey, Blue Rodeo, and even Alannah Myles. In lieu of his success, he recorded some of his / Red Rider’s past songs to orchestral arrangements and released The Symphony Sessions.

The Red Rider concept had, by now, overstayed its welcome, and Greer decided to further his career as a producer / collaborator. This meant that Tom had now come full-circle, returning to a soloist like in the early days of the 70s. The difference was that he was now a household name in Canada. There was something personal he wanted to do first, however. He took his family to walk on African soil on behalf of the World Vision famine relief organization. 1991’s Mad Mad World was shaped by such an experience.

To put it briefly, the album saw five of its tracks crack the Top 30, four of which the Top 10, and one of which—”Life is a Highway”—become a chart-topper and international hit, nabbing the Juno Award for Song of the Year. The album, itself, sold a million copies in Canada, certifying itself Diamond, won the Juno for Album of the Year and for Cochrane Male Artist of the Year.

Four years later, Cochrane released Ragged Ass Road which, in terms of hit singles, matched the success of Mad Mad World. The album was more stripped-down than its predecessor. Two more studio albums followed.

Tom Cochrane is an avid golfer, a pilot, and a hockey buff. He lives in Oakville, Ontario, often spending his summers at his cottage in Georgian Bay and part of his winters at his home outside of Austin, Texas. He and wife Kathleene have two daughters.

Sally Yeh

Born: 1961, Taibei, Taiwan
Debut: 1980
Genre: Pop

Studio Albums and Hit Singles

The Taiwan Period

1980: The Sculptures of Spring

1981: Love Poem

1982: The Beginning of Love

1982: Promise Me

1983: Even the Best Separation Will Result in Missing

The Hong Kong Period

1984: Sally

Hit Single: “Ten Past Midnight”

1985: Goodnight, My Love

1986: Cha Cha Cha

Hit Single: “I Want to Keep on Living”

1987: Sweet Words

Hit Single: “Cheers”

1987: Good Luck

Hit Singles: “Good Luck” (Year-End Top 10), “Dawn, Don’t Come” (from the film A Chinese Ghost Story)

1989: Face to Face

Hit Single: “Drunk for Life” (from the movie The Killer)

1990: Take Care

Hit Single: “Heart Aflame”

1990: Fall Has Come and Gone

Hit Single: “Fall Has Come and Gone”

1991: Caring

Hit Single: “Believe in Oneself” (with Alex To)

The Greater China Period

1991: Walking Coolly

Hit Single: “Walking Coolly”

1992: Red Dust

Hit Singles: “Past Heartbreak”, “Lover and Friend”

1992: Past Heartbreak

Hit Singles: “Sincerely for Life”, “Crying Sand”

1993: Another Day with You

Hit Single: “You’re Leaving Today”

1993: Heart of the Moon

1994: A Woman’s Weakness

Hit Single: “A Woman’s Weakness”

1994: Day Lovers

1995: Simple Black & White

1995: Wishes

1996: True

1996: Candlelight

1997: Rubia Cordifolia

1997: Concern

1998: My Heart Will Go On

2002: You Heard

Hit Single: “Mourning” (Year-End Top 10)

2003: Inside Out

Our story with Sally actually begins in the year 1858 (and, no, that isn’t a typo). Wen Ling left China’s Guangdong Province for San Francisco, USA. Later, he headed up to Canada, settling in the now nearly non-existent town of Port Douglas, British Columbia. During the Fraser Valley gold rush it was the second largest municipality on mainland BC. Early in 1861, Wen’s wife gave birth to a son. He was named Alexander and was the first baby to be born on Canadian soil from Chinese immigrants (that is known). What is most significant is that the birth took place six years prior to Confederation, the implications being that the British and French were not the only ethnicities who founded the country.

Nowadays, more than one-quarter of Vancouver’s citizens are ethnically Chinese, and Canada as a whole has a large population of Asian descent (13%).

Another important date in our story is 1957. The year saw the meteoric rise of Canada’s first rock ‘n roll superstar, Paul Anka. In a blacks-and-whites-only music industry in the west, most people would be surprised that, in Canada, it all began with someone of Asian descent. But, ever since the promising beginning for Asian Canadians, the music industry had failed to tap into such a pool of talent and open its doors to them.

Sally Yeh was born in Taibei, Taiwan. When she was four years old, her parents immigrated to British Columbia. She showed incredible talent for singing. After completing high school in Canada she was faced with a decision: launch a singing career in Canada or return to Taiwan to do so? Although born in Taiwan, she was Canadian: her English was better than her Chinese, she had adopted Canadian culture, and Canada was her home. Taiwan was a foreign land. Intimidated, however, by a Canadian music industry bereft of any Asian Canadian representation, she decided to venture over to the western side of the Pacific. After all, no Canadian with an Asian face could ever seriously think of becoming a singer in a country that prided itself on its diversity and multiculturalism. In Taiwan she would at least have a chance, nay an advantage.

Shortly after settling in Taibei, she was allegedly discovered by a talent scout while buying fried chicken. Yeh really wanted to sing but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to appear in a movie. This led to her signing the theme songs of several films and her securing a recording contract. There was a major problem, however. Although she could speak simple conversational Chinese (because of her parents), she couldn’t read it. How could she read and memorize song lyrics? Chinese characters were converted into pinyin romanization and large placards were held up in the recording studio as she sang into the microphone. She breathed a sigh of relief as she was asked to record some English songs in addition to the Chinese for her first album. Her debut, The Sculptures of Spring was released in 1980.

Although she was an amazing singer, the album drew little attention, as the populace wasn’t sure whether to embrace someone who wasn’t Taiwanese but Canadian and someone whose Chinese language skills were weak at best. She recorded several more albums, at least one per year but a big breakthrough eluded her. She gave up on Taiwan. In the early 80s, the music industry on the island was lagging far behind Hong Kong which was the center of the universe for the Chinese music industry. But there was an even bigger problem with her decision to relocate to Hong Kong: she couldn’t speak a word of Cantonese. Having grown up in BC, she no doubt had some Cantonese-speaking classmates, but to become a star in Hong Kong without being fluent in the dialect was a formidable challenge. She was up to the task, relocating to Hong Kong in 1984.

Working with language coaches and, again, using romanized words, she recorded the Cantonese album, Sally. The opening track, “Ten Past Midnight”, composed by George Lam was an instant hit. The song that rocketed her to superstardom came in 1987 with the release of Good Luck. Its title-track was one of the ten biggest songs of the year. The track “Dawn, Don’t Come” from the album appeared in the blockbuster film A Chinese Ghost Story and won the Best Original Song award at the 7th Hong Kong Film Awards. Sally Yeh was now rivalling local superstars Priscilla Chan and Anita Mui in popularity.

Director John Woo had gained prominence with the release of A Better Tomorrow in 1986. But he was still an unknown in the west. All that changed in 1989 when he came out with his acclaimed masterpiece, The Killer. Sally Yeh was asked to star in the film alongside Chow Yun-Fat and sing its theme songs, including “Drunk for Life“. In an interview, Yeh said, although she was glad to do the movie with Woo, she decided to drop out of acting because of the way that women were portrayed in Chinese cinema.

Sally had conquered Hong Kong, and now, as the decade ended, it was time to conquer the rest of China. This meant returning to Mandarin and releasing songs in both dialects. And with this, the early 90s belonged to Yeh. Her song “Walking Coolly” became the anthem of 1991, winning the Mandarin song of the year award, and she won the most popular female singer award four years in a row. Although she herself was Canadian, she came to be known as the Celine Dion of Hong Kong and developed a reputation for outdoing other singers in the Orient by staying entirely on key during live performances.

She collaborated with a couple of other western artists, recording “Dreaming of You” with Tommy Page in 1992 and “I Believe in Love” with James Ingram the following year.

In the mid-90s, when she married George Lam, Yeh’s popularity gradually diminished despite appearances from Sammi Cheng, Anthony Lun, and Jackie Chan on her records. The couple lived in Canada and bought a house in San Francisco. After recording a Chinese version of Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” in 1998, she took a break from making records. In 2002, however, she made a triumphant comeback with the album You Heard and hit single “Mourning“. She followed up with Inside Out in 2003. She now had 30 studio albums under her belt. On January 7th, 2011, Yeh was awarded the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Golden Needle Award in Hong Kong.

While Canadians celebrate their singers’ success abroad, this is normally only true for achievement in the United States. Success by Canadian artists in other countries, like China, France, even Britain, is rarely acknowledged. We acknowledge Sally Yeh as one of the finest and most successful Canadian singers the world has ever seen.

Blue Rodeo

Formed: 1985, Toronto
Debut: 1987
Genre: Country-Rock

Primary Members

Jim Cuddy (lead vocals, guitar)
Greg Keelor (lead vocals, guitar)
Bazil Donovan (bass)

Other Members

Cleave Anderson (drums to 1990)
Mark French (replaced Anderson to 1992)
Glenn Milchem (replaced French)
Bob Wiseman (keyboards to 1993)
James Gray (replaced Wiseman to 2006)
Bob Packwood (replaced Gray)
Kim Deschamps (pedal steel, 1992-2000)
Bob Egan (replaced Deschamps)

Achievements

– 6 Multi-Platinum and 3 Platinum Studio Albums
– 19 Top 40 Singles, including 9 Top 10’s on the Pop Charts
– 6 Major Juno Awards
– Inducted into the Music Hall of Fame, 2012
– Star on Canada’s Walk of Fame, 2009

Major Juno Awards

– Song of the Year “Try”, 1989
– Group of the Year 5 times: 1989, 1990, 1991, 1996, and 2008

Biggest Studio Album

Five Days in July, 1993 (6x Platinum)

Biggest Song

Til I Am Myself Again“, from the 1990 album Casino
– #3 on the Pop Charts, #1 on the Country Charts, #6 on the AC Charts

Studio Albums and Hit Singles

1987: Outskirts

– #20
– 4x Platinum
– Hit Singles: “Try” (#6 Weekly Peak; #48 Year-End), “Rose Coloured Glasses” (#40)

1988: Diamond Mine

– #4
– 3x Platinum
– Hit Singles: “Diamond Mine” (#7 WP; #56 YE), “How Long” (#25)

1990: Casino

– #6
– 2x Platinum
– Hit Singles: “Til I Am Myself Again” (#3 WP; #43 YE), “Trust Yourself” (#13), “What Am I Doing Here” (#33), “After the Rain” (#30)

1992: Lost Together

– #3
– 2x Platinum
– Hit Singles: “Lost Together” (#3 WP; n/a YE), “Rain Down On Me” (#11 WP; #60 YE), “Already Gone” (#33)

1993: Five Days in July

– #8
– 6x Platinum
– Hit Singles: “5 Days in May” (#4 WP; #42 YE), “Hasn’t Hit Me Yet” (#8 WP; #53 YE), “Bad Timing” (#17), “Head Over Heels” (#36)

1995: Nowhere to Here

– #2
– 2x Platinum
– Hit Singles: “Side of the Road” (#4 WP; #57), “Better Off As We Are” (#5 WP; #58 YE)

1997: Tremolo

– #8
– Platinum
– Hit Singles: “It Could Happen to You” (#4 WP; #50 YE)

2000: The Days In-Between

– #4
– Gold
– Hit Singles: “Somebody Waits” (#29)

2002: Palace of Gold

– #6
– Platinum

2005: Are You Ready

– #3
– Gold

2007: Small Miracles

– #5

2009: The Things We Left Behind

– #6
– Platinum

2013: In Our Nature

Blue Rodeo - In Our Nature

– #2
– Gold

2016: 1000 Arms

blue-rodeo-1000arms-1-300x300

– #6

Its affinity for the “roots music” styles of US pop – country, rockabilly, and folk-rock, as well as rock ‘n’ roll – initially drew Blue Rodeo comparisons to The Band and gave it both a populist and critical appeal.
                                                                          —Encyclopedia of Music in Canada

Country music became popular throughout Anglo America in the 90s with huge names like Canada’s Shania Twain and the United States’ Garth Brooks. Some were saying that country music was even more popular than pop / rock. One of the reasons for this is that country music tends to appeal to all ages – children, youth, adults, and seniors; whereas pop / rock is normally more popular among teens and young adults.

Before Garth Brooks rose to fame in the United States, a number of things were happening north of them that helped set up country music’s surge in popularity in the 90s. In order to attract greater audiences to country, a number of artists built bridges by performing country-rock or country-pop, a blending of the two genres. One of the first and most successful acts to do this was Toronto’s Blue Rodeo.

Songwriters Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor met in high school. They both attended university after which they played in the band The Hi Fi’s in 1977, wrote songs, and released an independent single. Having made little headway, they decided to head down to New York City in the United States in 1981. While there, they assembled the band Fly to France. They played gigs wherever they could, put up posters, and sent promo packages to record companies but drew little attention, so they returned to Toronto. Having recorded a four-song demo, they sent it to a number of record labels. As chance would have it, they ran into an old friend, Cleave Anderson, who had also not seen much luck with the bands he’d joined. He agreed to join Jim and Greg and recommended his friend Bazil Donovan as the drummer. And with this quartet, Blue Rodeo was born. They played their first gig at the Rivoli in February 1985.

Somehow they managed to attract the attention of the manager of country band Prairie Oyster who owned a record label. He introduced the band to producer Terry Brown (Cutting Crew, Klaatu, Rush) who agreed to assist them. After a year and a half of writing and recording, they struck a deal with major label WEA and released the debut album Outskirts. The single “Try” was a Top 10 hit and won the Juno Award for Song of the Year as did the band for Group of the Year. The album reached multi-Platinum status and they toured the nation with k.d. lang and later Europe.

Their follow up album, Diamond Mine, did nothing but bolster their popularity. While award-winning actress Meryl Streep was out driving, her chauffeur played the band’s music in the car. She was so impressed that she asked her production company to have Blue Rodeo make an appearance in the film Postcards from the Edge. When they returned home, they found that their record label had closed. Warner Music Canada took over their contract and connected them with Los Angeles manager Danny Goldberg (Alannah Myles). The new team tried to promote the third album (Casino) in the U.S. but, although receiving much critical praise, it failed to attract attention. At home, however, they had no trouble reciprocating their multi-platinum sales.

For their fourth album (Lost Together in 1991), they tried beefing up their sound with the harder rock that was currently popular. A couple of line-up changes followed the release. The fifth (1993) album, Five Days in July (the title refers to the length of time it took them to record it) saw Blue Rodeo opt for a more acoustic sound resulting from their desire to pay homage to Neil Young’s Harvest era. Sarah McLachlan contributed to the album, and it was to be the band’s most successful, attaining 6x Platinum sales. The eclectic Nowhere to Here followed two years later (also made with contributions from McLachlan).

The band has continued to release albums up to the present time.

Late-80s Semi-Major Acts

Barney Bentall (and the Legendary Hearts)

Bentall, born in Toronto, formed a Vancouver-based band naming themselves after a Lou Reed album. From 1979-80, they released three EPs that made little impact. They switched from A&M to Epic/CBS and with the assistance of Bob Rock recorded their first full-length (self-titled) album in 1987. A music video for “Something to Live For” was aired on MuchMusic helping the song become their first hit (#17); the album reached Platinum status. They did even better in the 90s. Two songs made the year-end Top 100 charts: “Crime Against Love” (1990) and “I’m Shattered” (1995). They released their last album in 1997.

The Grapes of Wrath

This Kelowna, BC band formed in 1983 releasing an EP on Vancouver’s Nettwerk label the following year. Despite obvious talent, Canadian radio did little to promote the band. Tom Cochrane produced their 1987 album Treehouse whose “Peace of Mind” was a minor hit. Adding a keyboardist, their follow up album secured their breakthrough. “All the Things I Wasn’t” broke into the Top 20 and was nominated for a Song of the Year Juno. Like Bentall, two of their songs were huge hits the early 90s: “I Am Here”, the 49th biggest song of 1991 and “You May Be Right“, a Top 10 hit in 1992. The moment they began earning lots of money, their name suddenly became tied up in litigation, so they changed it to Ginger with a couple of hits that scratched the Top 30 in 1996/97. After 22 years, the band released an album of new material, High Road, in 2013.

The Jeff Healey Band

Jeff was an adopted, Toronto-born, blind blues-rock singer and guitarist. He lost his sight due to a rare cancer of the eyes called retinoblastoma. He began playing the guitar at three with the unique style of holding it flat on his lap. He formed the band Blue Direction when he was 17 and hosted a radio jazz and blues show. The Jeff Healey Band was formed after he was introduced to a bassist and a drummer. They began playing nightly in local clubs around Toronto. He was discovered by Stevie Ray Vaughan during a performance at Albert’s Hall and signed to Arista Records in 1988. “Angel Eyes” off the album See the Light made the Year-End Top 100 and peaked at #5 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. While being nominated for an American Grammy award for the album, the band was working on the soundtrack to the Patrick Swayze film Road House. Three Jeff Healey songs made the Year-End Top 100 in the early 90s: “I Think I Love You Too Much” (1990), “How Long Can Man Be Strong” (1991), and “Lost In Your Eyes” (1993). Healey died of lung cancer in 2008. Jeff Healey received a star on the Walk of Fame in 2014.

Sass Jordan

Sarah was born in Birmingham, England but grew up in Montreal. She joined a couple of bands including The Pinups as lead singer and bassist. She wanted to name herself Flash Jordan but the name was already taken and under copyright. She wrote material for various Quebec artists, sang backing vocals for The Box, and served as a local video jockey. Her first album, Tell Somebody, came out in 1988, spawning the hits “Tell Somebody” (#11) and “Double Trouble” (#12). The album attained Platinum sales. Her second album, 1992’s Racine, included four hit singles, all easily making the Top 20. Her biggest success came with her third album, Rats. Two songs made the Top 10 and finished in the Top 100 Year-End charts of 1994: “High Road Easy” and “Sun’s Gonna Rise”. In the new millennium, Sass was one of the judges on the hit TV series “Canadian Idol”.

k.d. lang

Kathryn Dawn Lang was born in the tiny town (less than 1,000 people) of Consort, Alberta in 1961. She smoked up the country charts with “I’m Down to My Last Cigarette” before topping them with “Full Moon Full of Love”. She rounded out the 80s with three more country hits and then crossed over to pop in 1992 with the Top 10 hit “Constant Craving“. Although it peaked at only #38 on the Billbaord Hot 100, it won for her the American Grammy award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. From there she proceeded to the adult contemporary arena with the hits “If I Were You” in 1995 and “Summerfling” in 2000. k.d. received a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame in 2008. She performed her rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver and the song brought her back onto the pop charts, peaking at #2.

Rita MacNeil

We focus mainly on artists in the pop / rock category on the site, unless they’re big-sellers. And adult contemporary / country / folk singer Rita MacNeil was a very big seller with five multi-platinum and three platinum albums. She was born in Big Pond, Nova Scotia in 1944. She first appeared on stage in 1971, recording her first album four years later. Prior to her breakthrough she performed at many folk festivals. In 1987, MacNeil released the album Flying on Your Own which became double-platinum with a couple of hits on the Adult Contemporary charts. Her subsequent four albums matched or surpassed sales, the biggest being Now the Bells Ring, 3x Platinum. Her 1990 song “Working Man” was a hit in Britain (#11). She hosted the Gemini award winning TV variety show “Rita and Friends” from 1994-97 and runs a tea room in Big Pond which attracts many tourists. Canadian playwright Charlie Rhindress wrote a play on her life called “Flying on Her Own”, which was performed around the Maritimes and features many of her songs. Rita passed away in 2013.

Mitsou

Born as Mitsou Annie Marie Gélinas in 1970, Loretteville, QC, her name means honey in Japanese. As a child she began acting and modelling, taking an interest in singing during her teens. In 1988, she secured a recording contract, releasing El Mundo. “La Corrida“, “Les Chinois”, and “Bye Bye Mon Cowboy” were huge hits in Quebec. The latter became a radio hit across Canada, a rare phenomenon for a Francophone song. Her sophomore album, Terre des Hommes, saw her collaborating with Men Without Hats’ Ivan Doroschuk. Her music video for the song “Dis-Moi, Dis-Moi” contained a nude scene and was banned on MuchMusic. Mitsou lashed back asking the question why violence was okay but nudity not? The fact that Madonna’s video for “Justify My Love” was banned at the same time sparked a national debate. MuchMusic responded by creating a new late-night series “Too Much 4 Much” which showcased such videos. The controversy worked in Mitsou’s favour as the song was played on radio stations across Canada. Mitsou released an English-language album and singles that were generally ignored by English radio stations in Canada (“Deep Kiss” was perhaps the most successful).

Siblings Simard and Séguin

There are more families in rock than those named Partridge. We’ve seen acts composed of husband-wife teams, like Ian & Sylvia, children follow in the footsteps of their parents, like Tal Bachman (son of Guess Who / B.T.O. rocker Randy), and brothers form bands together with friends, like Men Without Hats’ Doroschuks.

A family relationship in music we’ll explore here is that of siblings, specifically a brother-sister duo. Husbands and wives can end their marriage but a brother and a sister are in a relationship for life. They can perform as a duo as well as individually. People are normally attracted to a brother-sister team because it’s a pure relationship offering the contrast of male-female voices and their performances are tied by blood. What happens when sibling rivalry becomes sibling coalition? Pure magic! The United States got their Donnie & Marie Osmond in the 70s and enjoyed their TV variety shows (of course they had other siblings of theirs to join in from time to time).

Canada had the Simard siblings … and the Seguin siblings … any name beginning with an S would do.

René & Nathalie Simard

“René Simard has sold more records in Quebec than Elvis Presley and The Beatles.”
                                                                                                            —Patricia Bailey

Rene, seven years older than his little sister, was born in Chicoutimi, QC in 1961, so his career got going first. Nathalie was born in Île d’Orléans (near Quebec City), 1969. Their father was a choirmaster. A singing competition was held on the Montreal program “Les Découvertes de Jen Roger” and nine year-old Rene won, bringing him to the attention of impresario Guy Cloutier who turned him into an international singing sensation. He appeared in television commercials, gave a performance at Pace des Arts, and made his first records, singing “Ave Maria”, “Un enfant comme les autres”, and “L’Oiseau”.

In 1974, Rene represented Canada at Tokyo’s International Festival of Song, winning first prize. He was presented with the Frank Sinatra trophy by Ol’ Blue Eyes himself. The following year he made his debut at the Olympia in Paris, after which he embarked on a tour of the English-speaking world, making frequent appearances on American television with the likes of Bing Crosby, Andy Williams, Liza Minnelli, and Bob Hope. He performed with Liberace in Las Vegas.

He carefully selected the songs he performed and recorded, new compositions as well as classics, maintaining a variety that appealed to all audiences—adult contemporary melodies, traditional songs, rock numbers, pop ballads, and disco tunes. Some of his hits were “Ma mère est un ange” (composed by his brother Régis), “Les dimanches après-midi”, “Bébé bleu”, “Maman, laisse-moi sortir ce soir”, and “Fernando”. He also performed the theme song of the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, “Bienvenue à Montréal”. Fortunately, he passed through the voice-change transition into adolescence smoothly and went from child star to teen star.

In 1977, he performed in 25 Quebec localities and launched the Vancouver-based, CBC-televised, English-language series, “The Rene Simard Show”. His songs “Never Know the Reason Why” and “You’re My Everything” were popular.

Cloutier took notice of Nathalie whose angelic voice was as captivating as Rene’s and had her record the song “Tous les enfants du monde” with Rene when she was 10 and Rene 17. The song was used for a Unicef fund-raising campaign. At Christmas 1979, she recorded her first album Joyeux Noël. Nathalie chante pour ses amis sold 30, 000 copies and she starred in the TV special, “Une journée dans la vie de Nathalie”. She and her big brother went on tour performing, among other places, in Montreal, Quebec City, and Ottawa.

At the beginning of the 1980s, René shed his teen idol image for a more charming rock persona and hosted, with Nathalie, a couple of live TV shows from the two Disneylands in the U.S. He also participated in the Jerry Lewis (American comedian) telethon in Las Vegas to raise money for muscular dystrophy.

In 1981, child-star Nathalie’s La Rentrée sold 75 000 copies in three weeks. She accompanied her brother to the Song Festival in Tokyo. When she returned to Canada she was asked to tape several television shows in honour of the Prime Minister. For the next three years, she hosted the children’s program “Le Village de Nathalie” which won her an award.

Nathalie’s rendition of the ever-popular “La Danse des canards” sold over 200 000 copies and won the 1983 Felix award for Best-Selling Recording of the Year. In 1984, Rene’s “Comment ça va” snatched the Felix award for Best-Selling single. In 1988, the Rene-Nathalie duet “Tourne la page” won the award for Best-Selling single. “Tout si tu m’aimes” was also popular.

The recording output of both of them became intermittent in the 90s. Nathalie released only a couple of recordings. Rene released E=MC2 in 1993, a couple of albums in 1996, and a 2003 album of jazz versions of French standards, Hier… Encore, featuring guest appearances by Jean-Pierre Ferland and Céline Dion. Nathalie released her final recording “Il y avait un jardin” in 2007 and then officially called it quits.

Richard and Marie-Claire Séguin

The twin Seguin siblings were not as glamorous nor as popular as the Simards and, as a performing duo in the 70s, were more folky. Nevertheless they, especially Richard in the 80s and early 90s, were a solid musical force in La Belle Province. They were born in 1952 in Montreal. Richard took up the guitar in his teens and in 1967 they began performing together as Marie et Richard. They founded the group La Nouvelle Frontiere which released an album in 1970. From 1971 to 1976, they were an official duo called Seguin, coming out with four albums for three record companies. After this, they went their separate ways as soloists. Marie-Claire released three albums. Richard collaborated with Harmonium’s Serge Fiori on the album Deux Cents Nuits a L’heure winning some Felix awards in 1979. After a couple of albums in the early 80s and some vocal training, he recorded the album Double Vie. The following year (1986), he received three Felix awards. Journee D’amerique and Aux Portes De Matin followed. The latter’s title track won the Felix Song of the Year award in 1992 and Richard was named Male Artist of the Year two years in a row. He has released several albums since then.

1980s Juno and Felix Song Nominees and Winners

IMPORTANT NOTE: Depending on the time of the year in which the Juno Awards were held, songs nominated could have been released the same year, but more often the previous year, which is why I’m beginning with 1981 and ending with 1990. Some songs charted both years (e.g. December ’85 – Jan ’86). It would be too complicated to go through the list and pinpoint exactly when each Junos gala took place, which year each nominated song was released and which year or years it spent its run on the charts. I say this simply so that the reader will not assume that a song nominated in, say, 1984 was released in and a hit in 1984.

Generally speaking, the Junos took place around March of the year from the years 1981 – 1983. In 1984, organizers decided to change it to a late-year ceremony so from 1984 – 1987, the gala took place in December. In 1988, they decided to revert back to the March scheduling. The result was that there was no ceremony in the calendar year of 1988; the awards were held in December 1987 and then March 1989. 1990’s were held in March as well.

From a cursory glance it appears that the songs nominated for Felix Awards were mostly hits in the year prior to the ceremony. But, again, don’t assume it so.

I’ve listed all the nominees and bolded the winners.

1981

Juno:

“Fine State of Affairs”, Burton Cummings
“Too Bad – The Move”, Doug and the Slugs
“Wasn’t That a Party”, The Rovers
Could I Have this Dance“, Anne Murray (Tie)
Echo Beach“, Martha and the Muffins (Tie)

Felix:

J’lâche pas, Marjolaine Morin et Jean Millaire
Je ne suis qu’une chanson, Diane Juster
Le goût du miel, Fabienne Thibeault et Patrick LeMaître
Moi Tarzan, toi Jane, Luc Plamondon et Robert Charlebois
Quand on se donne, Jean-Pierre Ferland, Ginette Reno et Alain Noreau
Thème de Passe-Partout, Michèle Poirier et Pierre F.Brault
Si j’étais un homme, Diane Tell

1982

Juno:

“Amour” by Baron Longfellow (a.k.a. Andy Kim)
“High School Confidential” by Carole Pope
“My Girl” by Chilliwack
“Thirsty Ears” by Powder Blues
Turn Me Loose“, Loverboy

Felix:

Call Girl, Luc Plamondon et Germain Gauthier
Si j’étais magicien, P. Allen et Louise Letendre
Souvent, Longtemps, Énormément, Diane Tell
Plein de tendresse, Claude Dubois

1983

Juno:

“Letting Go”, Straight Lines
“New World Man”, Rush
“Working for the Weekend”, Loverboy
“Your Daddy Don’t Know”, Toronto
Eyes of a Stranger“, Payola$

Felix:

Le beau matou, Louise Portal, Monique St-Laurent et Jean-Pierre Bonin
Les talons hauts, Luc Plamondon et Robert Charlebois
Métal, Paule Marier et Marie Bernard
Talk about it, Mireille Jacques et André Vincelli
J’taime comme un fou, Luc Plamondon et Robert Charlebois

1984

Juno:

“Cuts Like a Knife”, Bryan Adams
“Safety Dance”, Men Without Hats
“Straight from the Heart”, Bryan Adams
“Sunglasses at Night”, Corey Hart
Rise Up“, Parachute Club

Felix:

Ma blonde m’aime, Pierre Bertrand et Robert Léger
Ohé! Ohé!, Paulette Arsenault et François Cousineau
Un air d’été, Pierre Bertrand et Pierrette Bertrand
Tension Attention, Daniel Lavoie et Daniel DeShaime

1985

Juno:

“A Criminal Mind”, Gowan
“Black Cars”, Gino Vannelli
“Let It Go”, Luba
“Run to You”, Bryan Adams
Never Surrender“, Corey Hart

Felix:

1254 New York, Robert Leroux
Aimer pour aimer, Marie Michèle Desrosiers
C’est beaucoup mieux comme ça, Ginette Reno
C’est pas physique, Robert Charlebois
Cover Girl, Véronique Béliveau
Il y a de l’amour dans l’air, Martine St-Clair
Ils s’aiment, Daniel Lavoie
Je l’aime, Nicole Martin et Martine St-Clair
On va s’aimer, Martine St-Clair
Une Colombe, Céline Dion

1986

Juno:

“Crying Over You”, Platinum Blonde
“Diana”, Bryan Adams
“Everything In My Heart”, Corey Hart
“L’amour Est Dans Tes Yeux”, Martine St. Clair
Don’t Forget Me (When I’m Gone)“, Glass Tiger

Felix:

Il est en nous l’amour, Nicole Martin
Question de feeling, Fabienne Thibeault et Richard Cocciante
Seulement qu’une aventure, Offenbach
Un chanteur chante, Claude Dubois
Ce soir l’amour est dans tes yeux, Martine St-Clair

1987

Juno:

“Can’t Help Falling in Love” – Corey Hart
“Heat of the Night” – Bryan Adams
“Patio Lanterns” – Kim Mitchell
“Vivre Dans La Nuit” – Nuance
Someday” – Glass Tiger

Felix:

Arrête de boire, Rock et Belles Oreilles
Je voudrais voir New York, Daniel Lavoie
Quand on est en amour, Patrick Norman
Recherche, Jano Bergeron
Vivre dans la nuit, Nuance
Chats sauvages, Marjo

1988

(No Juno Awards this year)

Felix:

Au coeur du désert, Martine St-Clair
Bye bye mon cowboy, Mitsou
Doux, Marjo
Tourne la page, René Simard et Nathalie Simard
Tu peux pas, Claude Dubois
Incognito, Céline Dion

1989

Juno:

“Diamond Sun” – Glass Tiger
“When a Man Loves a Woman” – Luba
“Pop Goes the World” – Men Without Hats
“Hands Up” – Sway
Try” – Blue Rodeo

Felix:

Danse avec moi, Martine St-Clair
J’appelle, Paul Piché
Je pense à toi comme je t’aime, Diane Tell
Journal intime, Nuance
Les yeux du cœur, Gerry Boulet et Marjo
Repartir à zéro, Joe Bocan
Silence on danse, Robert Charlebois
Tu reviens de loin, Richard Séguin
Un trou dans les nuages, Michel Rivard
Hélène, Roch Voisine

1990

Juno:

“All the Things I Wasn’t”, The Grapes of Wrath
“Love Is”, Alannah Myles
“Rock n Roll Duty”, Kim Mitchell
“Under Your Spell”, Candi
Black Velvet“, Alannah Myles

Felix:

Car je t’aime, Paul Piché
Désir = danger, Martine St-Clair
Dors Caroline, Johanne Blouin
Et tu marches, Richard Séguin
Le coeur de ma vie, Michel Rivard
Qui sait?, Daniel Lavoie
Un beau grand bateau, Gerry Boulet

CMB Home

1989’s Biggest Canadian Hits, Both English and French

CMB medWe can only provide an incomplete list of charting singles for 1989, as the charts before May 1 have not been posted at the RPM online archives. Besides not being able to list all Top 40 hits from the early part of the year, we also do not have peak positions for Top 40 songs that appeared on the May 1 chart. The good news is that we do have a year-end Top 100 for 1989. The biggest song of the year in Canada in 1989 was Madonna’s “Like a Prayer”, Canadian Franco Roch Voisine’s Hélène, and Canadian Anglo Tom Cochrane’s “Good Times”.

Below are all the Canadian Franco songs that made the year-end CKOI chart (which is complete). All Anglo songs that made RPM’s Top 40 from May 1 to the end of the year are listed with their peak positions. Songs which appeared on the May 1 chart are marked with an asterisk indicating that they may have peaked at a higher position earlier. All songs from Canadian artists that made RPM’s year-end Top 100 are listed as well. Below the lists, check out some cool trivia regarding the year’s hits.

YE= Year-End chart position.

WP = Weekly chart peak position.

1989 FRANCO HITS

TITLE ARTIST YE
Helene Roch Voisine 1
La femme d’or Gerry Boulet 5
Sur ma peau Paul Piche 12
Loulou Les B.B. 19
Amere america Luc de Larochelliere 23
J’appelle Paul Piche 31
La-bas dans l’ombre Roch Voisine 34
Tu reviens de loin RIchard Seguin 38
La corrida Mitsou 41
C’est pas perdu Marie Carmen 45
Les yeux du coeur Gerry Boulet 48
Coup de coeur Michel Pagliaro 50

1989 ANGLO HITS

TITLE ARTIST YE WP
Good Times Tom Cochrane 36 13*
Rock ‘n Roll Duty Kim Mitchell 43 7
Diamond Mine Blue Rodeo 56 7*
Love Makes No Promises Candi 69 9*
Angel Eyes Jeff Healey 72 16
Giving Away a Miracle Luba 79 9
Black Velvet Alannah Myles 81 10
Rockland Wonderland Kim Mitchell 92 10
If a Tree Falls Bruce Cockburn 94 ?
Hard Sun Indio 95 10
Hey Men Men Without Hats   8
Double Trouble Sass Jordan   12
One More Try Brighton Rock   15*
Love Is Alannah Myles   16
Missing You Candi   18
All the Things I Wasn’t Grapes of Wrath   19
She’s So Young Pursuit of Happiness   20*
Misguided Angel Cowboy Junkies   24
Waterline Paradox   24
Unborn Heart Dan Hill   25
How Long Blue Rodeo   25
Watcha Do to My Body Lee Aaron   25
Another Man’s Gun Ray Lyell & the Storm   26
(Watching) Worlds Crumble Glass Tiger   27*
America is Sexy Paul Hyde   28
She’s My Inspiration Barney Bentall   30*
Boomtown Andrew Cash   31
Victory Day Tom Cochrane   32
Boy with a Beat Trooper   33
Still Lovin’ You Honeymoon Suite   33
Dream Come True Frozen Ghost   34*
Do You Believe One 2 One   34
Stranger Than Paradise Sass Jordan   34
Why’d You Lie Colin James   35*
Harry Houdini Kon Kan   39
Rockin’ the Free World Neil Young   39
So Hard Sass Jordan   39

* These songs possibly charted higher prior to April 24.

1989 CHOICE TRIVIA

1989 Trivia

LINKS

More Charts…

Late 80s Overview…

1988’s Biggest Canadian Hits, Both English and French

CMB medWe can only provide an incomplete list of charting singles for 1988, as the charts after October 15 have not been posted at the RPM online archives. Below are all the Canadian Franco songs that made the year-end CKOI chart. The year’s biggest Franco hit was Mitsou’s “Bye Bye Mon Cowboy” (3rd of the year). All Anglo songs that made RPM’s Top 40 up to mid-October are listed with their peak position. As well, are those songs that made the RPM year-end chart for 1988. Songs which were still moving up the weekly charts as of October 15 are marked with an asterisk indicating that they may have peaked at a higher position afterwards. Below the lists, check out some cool trivia regarding the year’s hits.

YE= Year-End chart position.

WP = Weekly chart peak position.

1988 FRANCO HITS

TITLE ARTIST YE
Bye Bye Mon Cowboy Mitsou 3
Le prive Michel Rivard 10
Pour une histoire d’un soir Marie-Denise Pelletier 14
Au coeur du desert Martine St-Clair 17
Possession Pierre Flynn 24
Journee d’amerique RIchard Seguin 28
Comme un coeur froid Celine Dion 32
Tu peux pas Claude Dubois 40
Chinatown blues Luc de Larochelliere 45

1988 ANGLO HITS

TITLE ARTIST YE WP
I’m Still Searching Glass Tiger 11 2
In Your Soul Corey Hart 39 2
Pop Goes the World Men Without Hats 42 2†
Crying R. Orbison/k.d. lang 45 2
Diamond Sun Glass Tiger 60 5
When a Man Loves a Woman Luba 64 6
Hands Up Sway 71 7
Big League Tom Cochrane 75 *
My Song Glass Tiger 92 32*
Love Changes Everything Honeymoon Suite 93 10
Hold Me Now One to One 100 *
Voodoo Thing Colin James 16*
Something to Live For Barney Bentall 17
Round and Round Frozen Ghost 19*
Love Becomes Electric Strange Advance 20
Winter Games David Foster 21
Never Thought I Could Love Dan Hill 22
Savin’ Myself Eria Fachin 22
Moonbeam Men Without Hats 23
Never Give Up Blvd 23
Tomcat Prowl Doug and the Slugs 23
Levity Ian Thomas 25*
Belive in Me Paul Janz 26
Far From Over Blvd 26
Dancing Under a Latin Moon Candi 26*
Believe in Me Paul Janz 28
Smile Me Down Andrew Cash 28
Dream On Blvd 31*
Lookin’ Out for Number One Honeymoon Suite 33
Thinkin’ About the Years Haywire 35
Black and Blue Haywire 37
IBU Roman Grey 37
Endless Night Eye Eye 37*
Spot You In a Coalmine Corey Hart 38*
Day After Day Blue Rodeo 39
Carmelia Dan Hill 39
Crying Out Loud for Love The Box 40

* These songs were moving up the charts as of October 15, 1988 and may have charted higher. The 1988 RPM charts after October 15 are unavailable.

† Peaked in 1987 and also finished the year-end 1987 at #80.

1988 CHOICE TRIVIA

1988 Trivia

LINKS

More Charts…

Late 80s Overview…

1987’s Biggest Canadian Hits, Both English and French

CMB med1987’s biggest hit in Canada was Los Lobos’ “La Bamba”. Marjo enjoyed the biggest Canadian Franco hit, as “Chats sauvages” finished 3rd on the year-end CKOI Top 50. “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Corey Hart was the biggest Canuck Anglo hit, 29th of the year on the RPM year-end Top 100. Below is a list of all Canadian Franco hits that finished in CKOI’s year-end Top 50. All Canadian hits that made the RPM Top 100 of the year are listed as well as all that peaked in the Top 40 of the weekly charts. Bear in mind, that this is a picture of cross-Canada success. Songs may have charted much higher or lower in various cities as radio stations usually give local artists more support. Below the lists, check out some cool trivia regarding the year’s hits.

YE= Year-End chart position.

WP = Weekly chart peak position.

1987 FRANCO HITS

TITLE ARTIST YE
Chats sauvages Marjo 3
La villa de ferdinando marcos sur la mer Daniel Lavoie 14
Doux Marjo 17
Trop d’beaux gars Sylvie Daviau 34
Save my life Marie Philippe 39
Piaf chaterait du rock Marie Carmen 48

1987 ANGLO HITS

TITLE ARTIST YE WP
Can’t Help Falling in Love Corey Hart 29 1
Together (the new wedding song) Joey Gregorash 38 6
Try Blue Rodeo 48 6
Wild Horses Gino Vannelli 51 7
Heat of the Night Bryan Adams 53 7
Moonlight Desires Gowan 60 10
Pop Goes the World Men Without Hats 80 2
Contact Platinum Blonde 81 13
Can’t We Try Dan Hill 83 14
Dance Desire Haywire 87 10
You’re What I Look For Glass Tiger 93 11
Closer Together The Box 94 13
Kiss You (When It’s Dangerous) Eight Seconds   14
Kiss Him Goodbye The Nylons   15
Ordinary People The Box   16
Stay With Me Tu   18
Dirty Water Rock & Hyde   20
Last of the Red Hot Fools The Jitters   21
Easy to Tame Kim Mitchell   24
Too Good to Be Enough Corey Hart   24
Notorious Loverboy   24
Hearts on Fire Bryan Adams   25
Walkin’ a Fine Line Johansen   26
Should I See Frozen Ghost   27
This Mourning Chalk Circle   27
I Will Be There Glass Tiger   29
Teenland Northern Pikes   29
Just One Night Triumph   33
Dancing with My Mirror Corey Hart   33
Rain Michael Breen   33
I’m an Adult Now Pursuit of Happiness   35
Awake the Giant Gowan   36
I Will Rock & Hyde   40

1987 CHOICE TRIVIA

1987 Trivia

LINKS

More Charts…

Late 80s Overview…

Rise of Asian, French, and Female Canucks (1987-89)

People often lump all ten years of the 80s together when talking about music. But the late 80s was very different from the early 80s. While the United States was celebrating Madonna’s fusing of new wave and disco in the birth of modern dance music, Canadians, despite an occasional dabble, were moving away from new wave into bare bones rock, perhaps encouraged by Bryan Adams’ success. Things took a sudden sharp turn backwards in 1989 with a veering away from progressive music to more traditional blues, rock, folk, and country. Suddenly, to be “unplugged” with sqeaky acoustic guitars was fashionable, an unexpected move celebrated by some and lamented by others.

The late 80s saw the first (as far as we can remember) French song played on English radio stations, the rise of the first female Canadian rock star, which changed the musical landscape up to the present day, the first French-language Canadian album to be certified Diamond in France (and, no, it wasn’t one of Celine Dion’s!), and one of the most successful Canadian singers of all-time internationally, who remains unknown to most Canadians.

1987

Although the biggest Canadian song of the year was a cover tune (Corey Hart’s rendition of Elvis’ “Can’t Help Falling in Love”), the year was the second most important of the decade (after 1985) for Canadian music, as twelve domestic ditties made the year-end Top 100 chart. Besides artists we’ve already profiled, there was Winnipegger Joey Gregorash, who had scored some hits back in the early 70s, his biggest being “Jodie”, a #3 hit in 1971. After years of inactivity, he suddenly surfaced again with “Together (The New Wedding Song)”, the second biggest Canadian song of the year. The most important newcomer in 1987 was a country-pop band from Toronto called Blue Rodeo. Their “Try” was the third most popular Canadian song of the year and won the Juno for Song of the Year. Blue Rodeo won the Juno for Best Group of the Year three years in a row.

Newcomers with significant hits that did not quite make the year-end chart included Ottawa’s one-hit wonder band Eight Seconds (“Kiss You When It’s Dangerous”). Sheriff (“When I’m with You”) members had split in half and formed two spin-off groups. The first, Frozen Ghost, came out with hits “Should I See” and “Round and Round”. The second was Alias which scored a megahit in 1990. (Glen) Johansen had played keyboards for Ronnie Hawkins after which he worked as a producer (M+M, FM) especially for reggae acts like Guyana’s Eddy Grant. He enjoyed his own hit single this year: “Walkin’ a Fine Line”. Saskatoon’s The Northern Pikes had their first Top 30 hit this year (“Teenland”). We’ll talk a bit more about them in the early 90s when they saw their biggest success. One of the most popular club bands in Toronto, The Jitters, managed a hit (“Last of the Red Hot Fools”). Another Toronto outfit, the twin DiBlasi sisters, as Tu, made the Top 20 with “Stay with Me”.

She never scored a Top 40 hit … on the pop charts, but Cape Bretoner Rita MacNeil‘s hits on the country and adult contemporary charts enabled five of her albums in row to achieve multi-platinum sales. 1987’s Flying On Your Own was the first to do so. In Quebec, Celine Dion had become a force to be reckoned with; her “Incognito” won the Felix for Song of the Year. Brother and sister René and Nathalie Simard‘s beautiful “Tourne la page” was popular as well.

A treat, especially for those who grew up in the 60s, appeared “somewhere down the crazy river”. The Band’s Robbie Robertson came out with a solo album with contributions from Canadian producer Daniel Lanois, U2, and Peter Gabriel. Robertson won the Juno for Male Artist of the Year. The album, certified 2x Platinum, won the Juno for Album of the Year. Robertson was the principal songwriter for The Band and is ranked as one of the 100 best guitarists of all-time by Rolling Stone magazine.

1988

The next two years are difficult to summarize because RPM weekly charts from October 1988 to May 1989 are missing, and there is no year-end chart for 1988. No songs from Canadian artists appear to have made Billboard’s year-end Top 100 singles chart. We do know that at the end of the year, Tom Cochrane and Red Rider released the album Victory Day finally seeing their big breakthrough: two Top 5 hit singles. It was a long time coming but they finally hit their stride with a driving rock sound. “Big Leauge” was about the death of a promising Canadian ice hockey player and gives the message that exporting Canadian talent to foreign lands is ultimately unsatisfying. New Order-sounding Kon Kan had a big international hit at this time as well: “I Beg Your Pardon”. Punky National Velvet dazzled with “Flesh Under Skin”.

Prior to mid-October…

Regina’s Colin James made a name for himself with “Voodoo Thing” becoming more successful in the 90s with a few Juno Awards. Andrew Cash, before a politician, had a hit single called “Smile Me Down”. A couple of Calgarians teamed up with a Seattle vocalist and recorded two albums in Vancouver with the assistance of Bob Rock and Mike Fraser. The result was four Top 40 hits, their first being “Never Give Up”. The band’s name was BLVD and they opened for Glass Tiger touring Canada. Barney Bentall scored his first hit: “Something to Live For”. Joe Bocan had a hit: “Repartir à zéro”. Richard Seguin was becoming popular (“Tu reviens de loin”). He had performed in previous years with his twin sister Marie-Claire as Les Séguins.

In the world of country music, small-town Alberta native k.d. (Kathryn Dawn) Lang, created a stir with “I’m Down to My Last Cigarette” off her (Platinum) Shadowland album. She was named Female Artist of the Year at the Junos. The following year, she topped the country charts with “Full Moon Full of Love”. In the 90s, she crossed over to pop and won a Grammy Award (U.S. equivalent of the Junos). Lang helped set the stage for the rising popularity of country music in the 90s which saw one of the genre’s top stars arise from Canada, scoring three 2x Diamond albums!

Canada tried its hand at dance music and managed to turn out a couple of hits. “Savin’ Myself” was a dance hit from Hamilton’s Eria Fachin. Sadly, she was diagnosed with cancer while working on her second album. She passed away in 1996, at 36 years old. Candi and the Backbeat had “Dancing Under a Latin Moon”. Her “Love Makes No Promises” made the Top 10 in ’89. Sway covered the European hit “Hands Up (Give Me Your Heart)” from French band Ottawan (not citizens of Ottawa). The cover made the Top 10 in Canada.

On the other side of the world, a Vancouverite had become a sensation. She had recorded albums in English that Canadian radio had ignored. Knowing that the racist Canadian music industry had closed its doors to Canadians of Asian descent (despite its first pop superstar’s belonging to that category), she entered the recording studio and sang from placards of romanized words from the language of her parents—Chinese. The next thing she knew, Sally Yeh was a pop superstar in the most populated country on earth. “Good Luck” was one of the ten biggest songs of the year in China. And from there everything snowballed for her, including playing alongside Chow Yun-Fat in John Woo’s classic masterpiece The Killer. No discussion of Canadian singers who have achieved international superstardom can omit Sally Yeh.

1989

This year saw the first French song played on English radio stations. In an as yet unrecognized national disgrace, the Canadian music industry has contradicted Canada’s policy of bilingualism, that encourages Anglophone youth to learn French, by segregating music based on language. In fact, Canadian English radio stations played two German language songs in the 80s while ignoring songs performed in Canada’s second official language. Although somewhat of a novelty song, the airplay across the country of Mitsou‘s “Bye Bye Mon Cowboy” was the one brief moment that Canada’s music industry showed some nobility.

Just as Anglophone Canadians had always struggled to achieve success in the United Kingdom, Francophones were having equal trouble trying to make it in France. In 1989 fortune came their way as the first French language album from a Canadian became certified Diamond in France. It wasn’t Celine Dion. In fact, it wasn’t a Quebecer. It was an Acadian from New Brunswick named Roch Voisine and his album Helene. (The album was certified 3x Platinum at home). Roch is one of the few Canadians who released successful albums in both official languages. His 1993 English-language album I’ll Always Be There (4x Platinum) spawned four Top 30 singles.

In Quebec, Johanne Blouin was shaking things up with “Dors Caroline”. Outside of French Canada and Chinese-Canadian Sally Yeh’s success abroad, English Canadian music had been dominated by the men whether in terms of soloists or rock bands. The women had been more successful in the folk and country arenas. In the 80s, all eyes were on Luba as one of the first successful women in pop/rock. In 1987/88, she scored a Top 10 hit with a cover of “When a Man Loves a Woman”. This year she did it with an original song: “Giving Away a Miracle”. Arguably, it was Luba who had opened the door for women. And the first one to walk through the door was Toronto’s Alannah Myles, Canada’s first female rock superstar. Her debut album was the third (after Adams’ Reckless and Hart’s Boy in the Box) to be certified Diamond, with domestic sales exceeding a million copies. “Love Is” was the first hit single. The bluesy “Black Velvet” did even better, breaking into the Top 10. Interestingly, the song was received much more enthusiastically in the United States where it went all the way to #1 and finished 18th in the 1990 year-end Billboard chart. Nevertheless it won the Juno for Song of the Year, as did her (self-titled) album for Album of the Year. “Lover of Mine” was her biggest hit from the album in Canada (#2).

Another female who did quite well with a dozen Top 40 hits to her name over the years was Montreal’s Sass Jordan. “Tell Somebody” and “Double Trouble” from her debut album made it to #11 and #12 on the charts respectively. Belleville Ontario rocker Lee Aaron sang “Watcha Do to My Body”.

The biggest Canuck song of the year was Tom Cochrane & Red Rider’s “Good Times”. It peaked at #2 on the charts. Offenbach’s former front man, Gerry Boulet, had the biggest song of the year in Quebec, “Un beau grand bateau”. He died of cancer the following year. Blind blues-rocker Jeff Healey had a hit with “Angel Eyes”. He died of cancer in 2008. Gordon Peterson, under the pseudonym Indio and with the assistance of Joni Mitchell, released one album (Big Harvest) in his career that spawned the Top 10 hit “Hard Sun”, later covered without his permission by Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder for the movie Into the Wild. This resulted in a lawsuit.

New bands appearing at the end of the decade included Margo Timmins-fronted The Cowboy Junkies. Their debut album in 1986, consisting mostly of blues covers, did not create much of a stir. But the song “Misguided Angel” off their second album was a minor hit. We’ll talk about them more in the early 90s when they had bigger success. Sylvain Cossette’s Paradox scored with “Waterline”, Niagara Falls’ glam band Brighton Rock with “One More Try”, indie outfit Pursuit of Happiness with “She’s So Young”, and Kelowna BC’s Grapes of Wrath with the hauntingly beautiful “All the Things I Wasn’t”.

Coming up will be a list of big songs in the late 80s, a special on the brother-sister stars Simards and Seguins, mini-profiles on Barney Bentall, The Grapes of Wrath, The Jeff Healey Band, Sass Jordan, kd lang, Rita MacNeil, and Mitsou, and major profiles on Blue Rodeo, Tom Cochrane (and Red Rider), Alannah Myles, Roch Voisine, and Sally Yeh.

Glass Tiger

Formed: 1983, Newmarket, ON
Debut: 1986
Most Active: 1986 – 1991
Genre: Pop

Members

Alan Frew: Lead vocals
Sam Reid: Keyboards
Al Connelly: Guitars
Wayne Parker: Bass
Michael Hanson: Drums (to 1988)
Randall Coryell: Drums (replaced Hanson)

Achievements

– All studio albums at least 1x Platinum
– 14 Top 40 Singles, including 7 Top 10, 1 of which was #1
– 3 major Juno Awards

Major Juno Awards

– Song of the Year “Don’t Forget Me When I’m Gone” 1986
– Album of the Year The Thin Red Line 1986
– Song of the Year “Someday” 1987

Albums and Hit Singles

1986: The Thin Red Line


– 4x Platinum
– Hit Singles: “Don’t Forget Me When I’m Gone” (-w/ Bryan Adams- #1 CAN; #2 U.S.; #29 U.K.), “Thin Red Line” (#19), “Someday” (#14 CAN; #7 U.S.), “You’re What I Look For” (#11), “I Will Be There” (- w/ Bryan Adams – #29 CAN; #34 U.S.)

1988: Diamond Sun


 – 2x Platinum
– Hit Singles: “I’m Still Searching” (#2 CAN; #31 U.S.), “Diamond Sun” (#5), “My Song” (-w/ The Chieftans- #19), “(Watching) Worlds Crumble” (#27)

1991: Simple Mission


 – Platinum
– Hit Singles: “Animal Heart” (#4), “Rhythm of Your Love” (#8), “My Town” (-w/ Rod Stewart- #8 CAN; #33 U.K.), “Rescued (By the Arms of Love)” (#8)

1993: Air Time: The Best of Glass Tiger


 Hit Single: “Touch of Your Hand” (#34)

Although they released only three studio albums (one of which was certified 4x Platinum), Glass Tiger dominated the charts in the late 80s / early 90s with 14 hit singles. Their “Don’t Forget Me When I’m Gone” was the 4th biggest song of the year in 1986 outdoing their contemporaries Platinum Blonde and Honeymoon Suite. They were also the one band to enjoy significant success internationally. Like the Payola$, their lead singer was born in the United Kingdom (Scotland).

They originally called themselves Tokyo which was formed by members of local bands Onyx and The End and played the Toronto bar circuit. They managed to attract the attention of American manager Derek Sutton of Styx who took their demo tape to a new label, Manhattan Records distributed by Capitol. In 1985, the band changed its name to Glass Tiger while Capitol sent them into the studio recruiting the assistance of Jim Vallance and Bryan Adams. The result was their 4x Platinum debut album The Thin Red Line. Five Top 30 hit singles were released from the album.

The band wished to move beyond their being labelled a preppy teeny-bop band and worked hard with Vallance on their follow album Diamond Sun for an edgier sound. Four Top 30 singles, two of which made the Top 5, resulted and the album was certified double Platinum.

With the musical climate changing into more guitar-oriented rock in the 90s, Glass Tiger redefined their sound a second time for their third album Simple Mission (1991). Alan Frew’s duet with high-profile Rod Stewart in the song “My Town” helped the band gain more international exposure which had been largely absent in the Diamond Sun release. Although a remarkable four Top 10 hits resulted from the album, the band felt, in the face of unfavourable reviews and unappreciative concert attendees, they were alienating their fans with their constant changing of musical styles and also felt they could not compete with the new grunge movement emerging. After all, pretty pop ballads were their specialty. After completion of their tour, Glass Tiger split up and its members worked on solo projects.

Alan Frew, as a soloist, had a pair of notable hits in the mid-90s: “Healing Hands”, the 66th biggest song of 1994 and “So Blind”, 90th of 1995.

Marjo

Born: 1953, Montréal
Debut: 1986
Genre: Pop

Biggest Hits

With Corbeau:

Fou
Visionnaire
Dernier cri
J’lâche pas
Illégal

As a Soloist:

Touch Me
Chats sauvages
Doux
Les yeux du cœur (with Offenbach’s Gerry Boulet)
Je sais, je sais
Y’a des matins
Bohémienne

Albums

1986: Celle qui va
1990: Tant qu’il y aura des enfants
1995: Bohémienne
1998: Bootleg Blues
2001: Sans retour
2005: Turquoise

One day we must study the influence that Marjo had on a whole generation of singers. There is not one, whether it be Marie Carmen, Maude, or Francine Raymond, who does not pay tribute to her. She opened the way by writing her own lyrics – inspired by what she was living – and by performing them with her guts, her integrity…
                                                                                                  —Marie-Christine Blais

Marjolène Morin, commonly referred to as simply Marjo, started out as a model, became fashion editor for the magazine Madame,and manager of Montreal jazz bar L’Air du temps. In the 1970s, she served as chorister in François Guy’s musical comedieis Tout chaud, tout show and L’Île en ville. In 1979, she joined the Felix award-winning rock band Corbeau as lead singer. The band gave hundreds of concerts around the province. “Illégal” was perhaps their best-known song. The group disbanded in 1984 and Marjo began a solo career.

She was guaranteed success right from the start as her “Touch Me”, theme song of the film La Femme de l’hôtel, won a Genie award. She teamed up with guitarist and composer Jean Millaire and they wrote some 40 songs together. Her debut album Celle qui viola, released in 1986, sold a quarter million copies and its song “Les Chats sauvages”, arguably one of the best Canadian songs of the decade, nabbed the coveted Felix award for Song of the Year and among winning several other awards that year, she was named Female Artist of the Year. She matched this success in 1990 with her second Song of the Year award, for “Je sais, je sais”.

Marjo has often been called Québec’s answer to France’s Édith Piaf and The United States’ Marilyn Monroe.

David Foster

Born: 1949, Victoria, BC
Debut: 1972
Genre: Easy Listening / Pop
Type: Producer, Composer, Arranger, Musician (piano)

Achievements:

– 15 Grammy Awards Won, including Producer of the Year 3 times
– 5 Juno Awards Won
– Has a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame (2002)
– Induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, 1998

Some Hit Songs He Co-Wrote:

1979: Cheryl Lynn’s “Gotta Be Real” (Billboard #12)
1979: Earth, Wind & Fire’s “After the Love Has Gone” (Billboard #2)
1982: Chicago’s “Hard to Say I’m Sorry” (Billboard #1)
1983: The Tubes’ “She’s a Beauty” (Billboard #10)
1983: Al Jarreau’s “Mornin'” (Billboard #21)
1984: Chicago’s “You’re the Inspiration” (Billboard #3)
1985: John Parr’s “St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion)” (Billboard #1)
1985: Northern Lights’ “Tears Are Not Enough” (RPM #1)
1985: Chicago’s “Will You Still Love Me” (Billboard #3)
1986: Peter Cetera’s “Glory of Love” (Billboard #1)
1986: Anne Murray’s “Now and Forever (You and Me)” (RPM #12)
1992: Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing” (Billboard #4)
1995: Madonna’s “You’ll See” (#6)
1999: Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli’s “The Prayer”

Some Hit Songs He Produced:

1984: Kenny Loggins’ “I’m Free” (Billboard #22)
1985: USA for Africa’s “We Are the World” (Billboard #1)
1993: Celine Dion and Clive Griffin’s “When I Fall in Love” (Billboard #23)
1994: All 4 One’s “I Swear” (Billboard #1 and #2 on the Year-End Chart)
1995: All 4 One’s “I Can Love You Like That” (Billboard #5)
1996: Celine Dion’s “Because You Loved Me” (Billboard #1 and #3 on the Year-End Chart)
1996: Celine Dion’s “All by Myself” (Billboard #4)
1996: Whitney Houston’s “I Believe in You and Me” (Billboard #7)
1997: Toni Braxton’s “Un-break My Heart” (Billboard #1 and #4 on the Year-End Chart)

Some Artists / Albums He Served as Producer / Co-Writer:

Hall & Oates
Alice Cooper’s From the Inside
The Tubes
Chicago
Dreamgirls Soundtrack
Kenny Rogers
Kenny Loggins
Dionne Warwick’s Friends
Gordon Lightfoot
Secret of My Success Soundtrack
Neil Diamond
Pretty Woman Soundtrack
Celine Dion (including her English breakout album Unison)
Natalie Cole’s Unforgettable with Love (Billboard #1)
Kenny G’s Breathless (Billboard #2)
Michael Bolton’s Timeless: The Classics (Billboard #1)
Barbara Streisand (including Back to Broadway – Billboard #1)
The Corrs
Andrea Bocelli
Josh Groban
Michael Buble
Destiny’s Child
Katherine McPhee
Peter Cincotti
Seal
Katherine Jenkins
Clay Aiken’s On My Way Here (Billboard #4)
Charice’s Self-Titled (Billboard #8)

Some Albums He Served as Arranger:

Michael Jackson’s Thriller, one of the biggest-selling albums of all-time
Barbara Streisand’s Wet

Some Artists for Whom He Served as Studio Musician:

Barbara Streisand
Rocky Horror Picture Show Soundtrack
Gary Wright
George Harrison
Rod Stewart
Dolly Parton
Olivia Newton-John
Earth, Wind & Fire
Donna Summer
Neil Diamond
Michael Jackson

Notable David Foster Singles:

1973: “Wildflower” (-w/Skylark- RPM #10)
1985: “The Love Theme From St. Elmo’s Fire” (RPM #7)
1986: “The Best of Me” (-w/ Olivia Newton-John RPM #17)
1988: “Winter Games” (RPM #21)

David Foster is one of if not the biggest music producer ever to come out of Canada. We may do some profiles on music producers and composers later on the blog. But Foster is a musician in his own right, starting out in a rock band called Skylark, and has composed a number of hits (mostly instrumentals) released under his own name over the years. No summary of Canadian music would be complete without giving a nod to Foster.

Foster is known as the “ultimate hit man” and “man with a magic touch”, as, besides a producer, he is a discoverer of talent, TV host, motion picture scorer, songwriter, pianist, producer, arranger, author, record company executive, and hit maker. If Foster takes a liking to a novice singer or band, it won’t be long before they’ll be a sensation. Consider the names that he has turned into international superstars: Celine Dion, Josh Groban, Toni Braxton, and Michael Buble. Foster is one man who wouldn’t be able to whittle down his resume into two pages. We’re having enough trouble trying to provide a list of credits to his name. Furthermore, if anyone is concerned that Canadian music is being Americanized, consider that Foster has been Canadianizing American music ever since the 70s. He has had a hand in some of the biggest American albums and hits over the years, including Michael Jackson’s Thriller album.

David Foster began playing the piano when he was five. During his teens, he worked with a Victoria rock band, the Strangers, in England and with Ronnie Hawkins in Toronto. As a keyboardist for the Vancouver band Skylark he went to Los Angeles in 1972. The band scored a Top 10 hit in 1973 called “Wildflower”.

The group split up and Foster remained in Los Angles as a studio musician for artists recording their albums, like Barbara Streisand, George Harrison, Rod Stewart, and Gary Wright. He proceeded from there to become a record producer. It appears that the first major album he produced was Hall & Oates’ Along the Red Ledge. He also began co-writing songs including Earth, Wind & Fire’s huge hit “After the Love Has Gone” in 1979. From that year, Foster began receiving many Grammy nominations and won 15 out of 46 in all.

By the 80s, Foster was rivalling Quincy Jones as Los Angeles’ leading record producer. He developed a reputation of taking an aggressive role in not only producing but arranging and co-writing for the artists with whom he worked in the studio. He worked as an arranger on Michael Jackson’s Thriller album. He co-wrote two huge songs for Chicago. In 1985, he co-wrote the Northern Lights charity single “Tears Are Not Enough” and produced the American equivalent—USA for Africa’s “We Are the World”.

He worked on the soundtrack for the film St. Elmo’s Fire, co-writing John Parr’s chart-topper and scored a hit himself with the instrumental “Love Theme” from the movie. The following year he teamed up with Olivia Newton-John in the collaborative “Best of Me” and came out with an instrumental tribute to the 1988 Winter Olympic Games in Calgary.

In the 1990s, he began a loftier role of discovering talent and turning novices into superstars. Celine Dion, having been a French language diva, had no idea how she was going to break out in the English market. David Foster produced her first English album and she became an overnight sensation.

Foster was the producer behind such other huge successes as Natalie Cole’s Unforgettable, soundtrack for The Bodyguard (Whitney Houston), Kenny G’s Breathless (Billboard #2), Michael Bolton’s Timeless: The Classics (Billboard #1), and Barbara Streisand’s Back to Broadway (Billboard #1). He produced some of the biggest songs of the 90s including All 4 One’s “I Swear” (#2 on Billboard’s Year-End Chart), Celine Dion’s “Because You Loved Me” (#3 on Billboard the Year-End Chart), and Toni Braxton’s “Un-break My Heart” (#4 on the Year-End Chart). In 1993 he was named Billboard’s top singles and R&B producer.

He formed his own production company, 143 Records, and was appointed senior vice-president of the Warner Music Group. In the new millennium, Foster focused on finding gifted singers and worked with them to develop their talent. These included Josh Groban and Andrea Bocelli. He also began to include production of jazz and classical artists in his repertoire: Michael Buble, Diana Krall, Chris Botti, William Joseph, and Renee Olstead. Recently, he discovered, signed and produced YouTube singing sensation Charice. In 2003, David Foster was presented with Hollywood’s Outstanding Achievement in Song-Writing Award. In 2006 he was appointed to Officer of the Order of Canada, one of the country’s highest honours.

Is there anything more we can say?