Les Sultans

albums w/ jackets & lyrics
Nicely situated outside Montreal, The Dowries became one of Saint Hyacinthe’s most popular instrumental garage bands in 1962. They soon changed their name to The Dots, performing on again off again wherever they could get a gig.

As the band evolved, the only remaining original member was Claude Reid, and along with fellow guitarist Denis Forcier, bassist Ghuylain Dufault and drummer Pierre Belanger, they continued playing while emulating acts like Beatles, Stones, and The Zombies. But realizing to make it they were going to need an actual frontman and not play mostly instrumentals, Bruce Huard (ex of Les Majestics) was recruited.

It was the middle of the British invasion, and they got some high profile shows in Montreal while they worked on their own material. Now going by Les Sultans, they signed with Les Disques Fontaines and recorded French versions of “I Saw Her Standing There” and Wild Cats’ “Oh Lady” by that summer. Both got decent airplay, partially to fulfill Quebec content requirements. Interestingly, the b-sides were covers of Spanish numbers – “Cieto Lindo” and “La Bamba.”

They also landed the job of head talent of the CHLT TV’s hit show, “Hi Buddies!” that year, which gave them some added exposure. A third single before the end of the year – “Le Pere Jean” was their first for Jeunesse Records, and three more followed in ’65 – “On Est Trop Jeune” and “Je t’aime Bien,” and “Vivre sa vie” for Laniel Records.

Another move, this time to Teledisc in ’66 was highlighted by their debut album, self-titled, which sparked two more singles – “Tu es impossible” and “La poupee qui fait non.” It also included the instrumental, “Tout Le Monde Me Dit Que’lle Est Belle.” The album was produced by Denis Pantis, and when he formed his own label – DSP Records in ’66, the band wasn’t far behind with the new single – “L’amour s’en va.”

It preceded their sophomore lp – 1967’s EXPRESS, which also gave birth to two more singles – “Tout ira” and “A toi, que je pense.” But the album was showcasing their diversity, as Huard and Forcier wrote three tracks, and four songs were done in English.

Two more original French singles were released in late ’67 – “Le Bonhomme D’hiver” and “En Fermant La Porte”. But unable to adapt to the changing radio audience, the band was falling apart, and their last three shows in front of a sold-out Starovan Club in Sherbrooke resulted in their swan song – the live EN PERSONNE LES SULTANS A STAROVAN that fall. Along with their most popular French hits, it also included covers of Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl,” Box Tops’ “The Letter,” the Motown classic, “Can I Get A Witness,” and Buck Owens’ “Act Naturally.”

DSP released the ‘best of’ compilation 15 DISQUES D’OR the following year, then several more over the decades, and also licensed the material to other labels. They also appeared on a number of multiple artist French albums during and after their life on various labels.

In 2002 their 1966 single, “Tu Es Impossible” was covered by Belgian group The Evil Thingies. 30 HITS, BRUCE ET LES SULTANS, which also included several previously unreleased tracks, was released in 2010.

Following the band’s demise, everyone eventually got out of the business all together. Huard tried his hand at a moderately successful solo French career in the ’70s for three albums (including a compilation that included several Les Sultans hits) and a string of singles, including “Petite Christina,” “Pardonne Moi,” and “A Toi Que Je Pense.” All faired respectably on the Quebec charts, prompting some live dates now and again. In the late ’90s he returned, did some shows, and released an English cover of Nat King Cole’s “Mona Lisa” before the end of the millenium.

Reid got a Bacher of Arts in Music after studying under Alexander Lagoya and became a guitar teacher. Forcicer was in The Heart of A Generation for awhile, releasing two albums. He then tried his hand at a solo career which usually include some Les Sultans hits. He then became a highly sought after session player and has worked with over a dozen other artists, including Patsy Gallant, Toulouse, and Les Karrik, and also found work writing jingles at a Montreal production house.

  • With notes from Andre Gagnier, Yves LaGace, Yves LaPierre, Jaimie Vernon