Recording Certifications (1973-75)

The biggest development in the Canadian music industry in the mid-70s was that the CRIA (Canadian Recording Industry Association) began to present various certification awards (gold, platinum, diamond, etc.) to albums and singles that attained sales of a defined number of units. Albums that sold 50,000 copies were certified “Gold”; 100,000 “Platinum”; 200,000 “2x Platinum”; 1 million, “Diamond”. On 1 August 1975, the first three Canadian albums were certified Platinum: Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s Four Wheel Drive, Beau Dommage’s self-titled album, and Paul Anka’s Anka.
 
In the mid-70s, the world was being swept up in ABBA fever. Canadians were taken up in this whirlwind as well but another foreign band became Canada’s favourite and was by far more successful in Canada than in another other country. Its name was Supertramp. Canada’s love affair with Supertramp was to continue on well beyond its retirement in 1982. Two of the band’s albums were to reach diamond status. In terms of homegrown talent, the mid-70s was one of the most productive periods in Canadian music history. The biggest year of the decade for Canadian music was 1974. Three of the Top 10 songs of the year (including #1) were by Canadian artists. But let’s begin with 1973.
 

1973

The two biggest Canadian songs of the year were “Last Song” by Edward Bear (#16) and “Danny’s Song” by Anne Murray (#50). The third biggest was by a short-lived outfit called Skylark (“Wildflower” – #52). The most significant thing about this Vancouver-based band was that one of its members went on to become an internationally famous music producer and composer, responsible for smash hits from such artists as Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Chicago, Josh Groban, and many others. His name? David Foster. We will profile him later on in a special entry dedicated to Canadian music producers.
 
British-born Keith Hampshire never became a superstar but had two big hits in 1973: “Daytime Night-time” and his cover of Cat Stevens’ “First Cut is the Deepest”. Another import from the U.K. was Scottish-born Murray McLauchlan, one of the most significant folk singers of the 70s. He had a big hit in ’73: “Farmer’s Song”. New Brunswick’s French folk singer Edith Butler began composing her own material in 1973 and, with growing recognition (she won a number of awards) and popularity, she found her albums going gold in the 80s.
 
One-hit wonders duo Gary and Dave scored with “Could You Ever Love Me Again”. They were fairly popular in Europe but left the music business to become airline pilots. Another short-lived outfit was The Defranco Family, comprised of five Italian-Canadian siblings. Their debut single “Heartbeat, It’s a Lovebeat” reached #3 on the Billboard charts and sold 2 million copies. They were also successful with “Abra-Ca-Dabra” and “Save the Last Dance for Me”.
 
The real-life brother of hoser “Doug McKenzie” (eh), Ian Thomas got going with the hit “Painted Ladies” from his debut album. It reached #4 in Canada and #34 in the U.S. He’d started out in the band Tranquility Base at the turn of the decade. Several other Top 40 hits followed well into the 80s: “Liars”, “Coming Home”, “Hold On”, “Chains”, and “Levity”. We like “I Really Love You” (a 70s synthesizer ballad) and “Harmony”, both of which received radio airplay.
 
Chilliwack, named after a medium-sized city in British Columbia, grew out of a 60s band called The Collectors. They made the Top 10 in ’73 with “Lonesome Mary” and scored several more hits in the decade culminating in their and #1 hit in the early 80s: “My Girl (Gone, Gone, Gone)”.
 

1974

“We had joy. We had fun. We had seasons in the sun.” These words typified the year, and the song that housed them, after spending four months on the charts, was not only the biggest of the year but also of the decade; it sold 11 million copies worldwide making it one of the most successful singles of all-time. Previously, we’d mentioned The Poppy Family, consisting of a husband-wife duo who scored two big hits. After their divorce, the husband—Terry Jacks—embarked on a brief solo career, which yielded this one lone hit. It won a Juno Award two years in a row for best-selling single, resulting in Winnipegger Jacks himself being awarded with male artist of the year in 1974. After the success of “Seasons in the Sun”, Jacks moved on to producing for such artists as The Beach Boys, Nana Mouskouri, DOA, and the aforementioned Chilliwack.
 
The third biggest song of 1974 was Gordon Lightfoot’s “Sundown” and the ninth was Paul Anka’s “You’re Having My Baby”. Andy Kim and Joni Mitchell had big hits this year with “Rock Me Gently” and “Help Me” respectively.
 
The Guess Who scored a hit with “Clap for the Wolfman” (#68 of the year). As we’d mentioned, Randy Bachman had left the group. And what was good ol’ Randy up to? Forming his own band. The early 70s was a time of sappy, soft rock, which wasn’t for everyone. The last echoes of harder rock that had dominated the 60s faded out with the retirement of Creedence Clearwater Revival in ’72. But Randy Bachman picked up the slack that same year when he, with brothers and friends, formed Bachman-Turner Overdrive. They began recording in 1973 but it took a year before radio began airing their gearhead, workingman rock. Were they popular? You bet. Their rock anthem “Takin’ Care of Business” continues to be popular today and finished the year ’74 in 66th spot. They did even better with the song that launched arena rock, always a favourite at roller and skating rinks—”You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet”—the 16th biggest song of the year.
 
Believe it or not, there were two bands whose albums outsold B.T.O.’s. Their names? Harmonium and Beau Dommage. Unlike B.T.0. they were each able to achieve multi-platinum certifications for a couple of albums. Three of Harmonium’s albums appear in Bob Mersereau’s “Top 100 Canadian Albums”.
 
Canadian news anchor Byron MacGregor read a newspaper editorial written by Gordon Sinclair about the United States which garnered such a huge response that he was asked to record “The Americans” over the soundtrack “America the Beautiful” performed by The Detroit Symphony Orchestra. The record became a big hit, reaching #4 on the Billboard singles chart and #1 in Canada. It finished the year ’74 in 67th place. It was re-released in 1979 after the Iran hostage crisis and in 2001 after the 9-11 Attacks. The recording has sold over 3 ½ million copies and all of his proceeds have been donated to The American Red Cross.
 
1974 was also the year that saw the debut from new age guitarist (one of the best in the world) Liona Boyd. Italian Montrealer Gino Vanelli realized his breakthrough with “People Gotta Move”. And Diane Juster, after becoming popular via performances of her songs by Julie Arel began to shine on her own.
 

1975

Paul Anka, teamed up with Odia Coates, continued his comeback with three huge hits: “One Man Woman/One Woman Man” (the biggest Canadian song of the year), “I Don’t Like To Sleep Alone”, and “(I Believe) There’s Nothing Stronger Than Our Love”. Bachman-Turner Overdrive also scored a hat trick with “Hey You” (2nd biggest Canuck tune of the year), “Roll On Down the Highway”, and “Quick Change Artist”. The Stampeders had two big hits: “New Orleans” and “Hit the Road Jack”. Quebec’s Michel Pagliaro scored an English hit with “What the Hell I Got”.
 
A newcomer that year was Hagood Hardy. “The Homecoming”, an easy listening tune of great beauty, was the third biggest Canadian hit of the year. Hardy was born in the U.S. as his mother was an American citizen. After studying at the University of Toronto, he played the vibraphone in jazz clubs before recording solo works. Later on, he scored the music for CBC-TV’s “Anne of Green Gables” series. Pianist Andre Gagnon came out with a winning album, Neiges. It became the first Canadian album to reach multi-platinum status in the country and won a Juno Award for Album of the Year. Children’s music got a big boost when Raffi released his debut album.
 
1975 also saw the debut of one of the most popular singers of the late-70s, Dan Hill. This year he scored a moderate hit; his “You Make Me Want to Be” broke into the Top 30.
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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
 
Achievements:
 
– 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.