SOCAN is mourning the loss of Ray Hutchinson, lead guitarist of The Beau-Marks, one of Canada’s first successful rock ‘n’ roll bands, who passed away at the age 81 from complications due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, on Oct. 31, 2021.
The Beau-Marks were known as the first Canadian group to completely write and record their music in Canada. Their biggest hit single, “Clap Your Hands,” co-written by Hutchinson and released in 1960, sold more than 500,000 copies, and landed the band their first album. The song reached the Top 20 at radio stations in Canada, and No. 1 in Australia. In the U.S., it reached the Top 50 on the Billboard Hot 100 and the Cashbox chart – where it remained in the Top 100 for 14 weeks. “Clap Your Hands” was re-released in 1968 and became a hit a second time, attaining the Top 10 of RPM’s Canadian Content chart.
As a co-writer, Hutchinson earned a SOCAN Classic Award (recognizing songs that achieve more than 100,000 radio airplays) in 2011 for “Clap Your Hands,” and the song was inducted into The Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. The Beau-Marks were also inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.
With the release of other singles, like “Classmate,” “The Tender Years,” and “Dark is the Night,” The Beau-Marks earned appearances on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand national U.S. TV show, and at New York’s Peppermint Lounge and Carnegie Hall – where they shared billing with Sammy Davis Jr. The Beau-Marks were one of the first Canadian bands invited to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show, though they had to turn it down, reportedly because of a scheduling conflict.
The band was originally formed in 1958 in Montréal as The Del-Tones, but because other bands were already using that name, changed it to The Beau-Marks – a humorous reference to Boeing’s Bomarc missile, purchased by the Canadian government in the late 1950s . The band released its debut album in 1960, and another two before the group broke up in 1963.
Hutchinson, who moved to Peterborough, then pursued a 25-year solo career as a lounge singer, and also joined Dave Nicholls & The Coins, who toured night clubs in Ontario and Québec. His music career came to an end in 1988 when he was struck by a car in Miami, which left him in a coma for several months, and required years to recuperate.
SOCAN extends its sincere condolences to Hutchinson’s family and friends.