Clap Your Hands by the Montreal-based The Beau-Marks has the distinction of being the first rock recording to be written, performed and produced entirely in Canada and to chart in the holy grail of the U.S. market.
The first cut on the “High-Flying Beau-Marks” album (Quality V-1656), Clap Your Hands was released in April 1960 as a 45-rpm single (1966-X), with Daddy Said on the B side. The single, with featured vocalist Joey Frechette and dominated by piano chords giving the steady dance beat, charted well with Canadian radio stations; the album notes claim that it was No. 1 in Canada. This success led to the single’s international release (Shad 5017), in a re-recorded version with hand-clapping added in. This new version went on to be a hit in the U.S., Australia and Europe.
Raw and unsophisticated rock and roll, Clap Your Hands has a memorable, catchy tune and beat, perfect for teens twisting around the dance floor:
“Clap your hands, clap your hands
You've got the beat, you're in the groove
Now grab your chick and start to move
This isn't just-a rock 'n' roll
This is a dance for young and old
Clap your hands, clap your hands!”
The “Billboard” magazine headline announced, “Beau-Marks break big with Clap Your Hands.” The single reached No. 45 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart in July 1960 (a week that featured Paul Anka, Brenda Lee, Roy Orbison, and the Everly Brothers) and No. 40 on the Cashbox charts, remaining in the top 100 for 14 weeks.
The hit appeared again on The Beau-Marks’ 1962 album “By Special Request,” along with the spin-off Clap Your Hands Once Again. In French, the group re-recorded their hit as Frappe Tes Mains for Alliance (AF 501), updating the sound with extra guitar riffs.
Clap Your Hands was re-released in 1968 and became a hit all over again, its pure energy and innocent, carefree charm taking it to the top 10 of RPM’s Canadian content chart and No. 74 in RPM’s Top 100 that July.
Frechette also recorded it in 1975 (as Joseph Conrad), on “Joey Conrad Salutes The Beau-Marks,” and the song also appears on The Beau-Marks’ later CD “By Special Request.”
Juno winner and country star Lynn Jones had a hit with the bouncy song on RPM’s country and adult contemporary charts in the summer of 1972. Clap Your Hands was also covered by Jigsaw, Rocky Sharpe and The Replays, and Jet Harris, and has featured on compilation albums like “Juke Box Jive” and “Early Canadian Rockers Volume 2.”
The Beau-Marks were formed in 1958 as the Del-Tones and later re-named themselves after the BOMARC missile-Avro Arrow controversy. The group’s members ‒ Joey Frechette (piano), Ray Hutchinson (lead guitar), Michel (Mike) Robitaille (rhythm guitar) and Gilles Tailleur (drums) ‒ blended Montreal’s anglophone and francophone components. The Beau-Marks disbanded in 1963.