Michel Rivard first met aspiring songwriter Pierre Huet while attending The University of Quebec in 1970. They formed the duo, Quenonuille Bleue, and played the lounges for a brief period before keyboardist Robert Leger came on board. They changed their name to Theatre Sainfoin, in tribute to the on-campus site where they played most of their gigs.
The trio was maintained on a part-time basis until the spring of ’73, when singer/pianist Marie-Michele Desrosiers and Real Desrosiers on drums (un-related) came on board. They changed their name to Beau Dommage and set out to preach the Quebecois way of life, blending social commentary into a light, pop music background.
They made enough noise to get the attention of reps at Capitol, who signed them to a deal later that year. Their self-titled debut album was released in ’74 to much critical and consumer acclaim. With the singles, “La Complainte Du Phoque En Alaska” (covered later by Félix Leclerc), and “Tous les Palmiers,” and with “23 Decembre” and “Harmonie Du Soir A Chateauguay,” the album was certified gold (50,000 copies), on its way to eventually selling a quarter of a million units.
They followed it up a year later with OU EST PASSEE DE NOCE?. Another soft, folk-based rock album with sweet harmonies, on the back of five singles, starting with “Une amie d’enfrance,” it became the band’s second straight platinum album. In the process, they were at the time Canada’s biggest selling group. In total, all five singles made the top 10 in Quebec, and the band embarked on its first European tour.
While the band worked on a new album, Michael Hinton was brought in as the new keyboardist, following Leger’s departure. PASSAGERS was released in the summer of ’76, and saw “Rouler La Nuit” make it to the top 4 across Quebec. The band embarked on another ambitious rounds of road trips, but by the spring of ’77, after the follow-up UN AUTRE JOUR SE LEVE EN VILLE, the pressures of being in the group led Rivard to release a solo album, and the band was on hiatus.
Capitol released the compilation LES GRANDS SUCCESS in 1978, which featured the new single, “Giselle En Automne,” but the inner strife widened the gap in the group, and everyone went on to individual projects before the end of the decade. Rivard continued to try and make a go of it as a solo performer, as did Marie-Michele Desrosiers. Leger masterminded a punk rock musical in ’82 called “Pied de Poule” (“Chicken Foot”). The play became a hit across Quebec, and was taken abroad for awhile, while the soundtrack sold in excess of 75,000 copies.
In the summer of 1984, in celebration of the 450th anniversary of Jacques Cartier’s discovery of la belle province, the band reunited for a one-off show. But feeling the magic was still there, they performed two more times that October at the Montreal Forum. A double live album resulted the next spring called simply AU FORUM DE MONTREAL.
The reunion also sparked EMI’s interest in re-releasing their hits in the form of PLUS DE 60 MINUTES AVEC BEAU DOMMAGE in 1988.
After a couple of compilations, including a four-disc boxset, the video footage of the three ’84 shows also made it to video in ’92, as BEAU DOMMAGE – LIVE-ISM. Shortly after, the original line-up got back together once again, releasing a self-titled album, 20 years after their first eponymous LP made its way to the stores and the charts.
Feeling a renewed vigor, they released their first new album in over two decades, with 1995’s RIDEAU. Three singles ensued during the comeback, all doing relatively well in Quebec – “Echappe Belle,” “Rive-Sud,” and “Tout Simplement Jaloux.” But within a couple of years, some on-again, off-again road trips subsided, and everyone returned to life outside of the group.
They showed up during the 2005 Francofolies in Montreal, when many artists decided to honour them, the same year another compilation was released. The lyrics and music to some of the band’s songs have also been published over the years by the Éditions Bonté divine, as Beau Dommage Volume I and II.