In loving memory of
1950 - 2008
- Revised on february 27, 2023 -
Known marketer, pianist, arranger, accompanist, singer-songwriter and conductor, Daniel was born in Montreal on Friday, December 1, 1950. Son of the internationally renowned organist-pianist Lucien Hétu, he began the studied the piano at the age of four, with none other than the incomparable pianist and composer of genius André Mathieu as a teacher.
At the age of 11, Daniel recorded his first organ album, on the RCA label, entitled "Le petit Daniel". This "45 rpm" earned him the CKAC Canadian Record Grand Prix, children's section.
From the age of 16 to 20, he continued his musical training at the École Vincent-d'Indy, where he studied piano, percussion and orchestration, until obtaining three bachelor's degrees in music. He then continued for three years his studies in orchestration and arrangements with the famous Neil Chotem, renowned as a teacher, pianist, composer, arranger and eventually conductor of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra.
In 1968, aged 17, Lucien Hétu released a musical album with his son Daniel on which both played melodies of the hour, entitled "Lucien Hétu et son fils".
After winning first place in an organ competition in Quebec, then in Winnipeg, at the age of 20, he represented Canada at the Yamaha International Organ Competition in Nemuno Sato, Japan (1971), where twenty - eight countries were represented. Exhausted by a flight that lasted 21 hours, he nevertheless won the first prize which consecrated him best organist in the world.
The following years, Daniel released his first instrumental album, entitled "Daniel Hétu plays Roger Whittaker". Shortly after, he was hired as arranger, accompanist and regular conductor for René Simard, which led him to travel to the United States, Europe and Japan.
Widely in demand, he participated in parallel with several other recordings with his father but also with many popular artists of the time including Edith Butler, Renée Claude, Nicole Cloutier, Patsy Gallant, Aimé Major, Renée Martel. and many others. In fact, as a conductor, he accompanied the majority of popular Quebec singers of the time, such as Véronique Béliveau, Michel Louvain and others. In an interview granted to the magazine Echos Vedettes, he specified that only Robert Charlebois had not yet hired him. As for international artists, he accompanied big names such as Charles Aznavour, Gibert Bécaud, Mireille Mathieu, Nicole Croisille and even James Brown.
From 1973 to 1976, he was hired by René Angelil as Ginette Reno's regular arranger and conductor, both for studio creation and for shows. In 1975, when he was 24 years old, the Société Radio-Canada offered him the musical direction of the television program "Faut voir ça" and a year later he took the baton of the program "Les Coqueluches".
From 1977 to 1981 CFTM-TV offered him the musical direction of the variety show "Les Tannants". During the first year of this show, he recorded the famous romantic ballad "Je t'attendais", which revealed his undeniable talent as a charming singer. The "45 rpm" sold more than 100,000 copies and earned him his first gold record. A few months later, the eponymous album, which also popularized the song "Je cherche une fille" sold more than 80,000 copies and earned it a second gold record.
In addition to assuming the musical direction of various TV shows as well as the composition, recording and production of songs for himself, Daniel composed several musical themes for popular radio and TV shows (Le radio café Provigo , In a good mood, Les Tannants, L'Artishow, Michel Jasmin, Découvertes, Montréal en direct, etc. ). He also composed the music for several songs that were popularized by different singers and performed the arrangements requested by many artists. It was he who, at the request of René Angelil, wrote the arrangements for the first song (Ce n'était qu'un rêve) which made Celine Dion famous.
In 1980 he released his second album as a singer, titled "Femme du monde", named after the hit single of the same name.
On June 6, 1981, his girlfriend, Linda Garofalo, gave him a beautiful baby girl they named Dina. Three months later, on September 19, Linda and Daniel made their status official by getting married and having their daughter baptized at the same time.
The same year, Daniel added another string to his bow by becoming co-host of the show Artishow with Pierre Lalonde and Fernand Gignac on CFTM-TV.
The following year, Daniel released another sung album which he titled "Et je rêve" which included "Je danse avec la vie" and "I believe in music".
But barely a year after his wedding, divorce proceedings were initiated and the couple's breakup was formalized.
In 1983 CFTM-TV offered him the musical direction of the program "Michel Jasmin". At the same time, he recorded his third sung album entitled "My life", which popularized the songs "Love your eyes" and "Smile me".
From 1986 to 1989 he ensured the musical aspect of the program "Le radio café Provigo" broadcast on CJMS and recorded his fourth sung album which he entitled "Daniel Hétu" (1988) which gave among other hits " sans histoire" and "Le coeur en quarantaine".
While Daniel's career was going well, his accountant, who also took care of the business of Dominique Michel and a few other artists, disappeared from circulation after having emptied the bank accounts of his clients. The police investigation later revealed that the fraudster had left the country with all the money he had been entrusted to manage. Daniel, who had entrusted the management of all of his assets (over a million dollars) to this individual, then found himself, overnight, without a penny. No longer able to rely on his savings to cover mortgage costs for his home and studio, he found himself forced to declare bankruptcy shortly after discovering the scam.
On August 15, 1992, then 42 years old, Daniel married his second wife, producer Diane Juteau.
The following year he released a compilation of his greatest hits entitled "Retrospective" and in November the couple moved to Florida where Daniel worked as an animator-pianist-singer until September 1995, when they returned to live in Montreal.
Daniel then worked as musical director for various shows produced by his wife Diane and occasionally accompanied certain singers and certain singers.
In November 1999, SOCAN honored him with an honorary plaque to highlight the fact that his song "Je t'attendais" had been played more than 25,000 times on the radio. At the same time, he composed texts and music for a sensual cassette entitled "Orgasm", on which we can hear 4 suggestive narrations, capable of creating a titillating atmosphere.
In 2003 and 2004, Daniel made his return to television after 20 years of absence by ensuring the musical aspect of the program "Un air d'été" hosted by Serge Laprade on the VOX channel.
In 2003, 2005 and 2006, he was also responsible for the musical aspect of the "Santé bel age" tours, which took him across Quebec, from north to south and from east to west, for several months, in the company of Sister Angèle and Serge Laprade.
At the end of 2006, he was offered the musical direction of the benefit show for "Le Chaînon", in order to help this charitable organization to raise the necessary funds to continue to help women in difficulty.
Music was not part of his life, it was his life! For him it was much more than a job, it was a real passion! He certainly liked to sing and accompany artists, but where he truly fulfilled himself was in creation. In the privacy of his residence, far from the acclaim and the spotlight, he liked to settle down at the piano and lay out original compositions, which revealed his passion and the musical genius that animated him. He also liked to settle down at the keyboard, put on his headphones and create distinctive arrangements both in their originality and in their overall quality.
Little inclined to social events, he was rarely talked about in the artistic media and the cameras had little opportunity to capture him on the spot. He nevertheless remained very active musically as a composer, arranger and accompanist. Since his debut as a singer in 1977, Daniel has also never ceased to offer occasional shows during which hundreds of people were lulled by his warm voice to the rhythm of love and charm.
For years, he had also undertaken the creation of a great dramatico-musical entitled "God is a woman" tailor-made for Broadway, supporting alone, the scenario, the choreography, the music and the lyrics in the language of Shakespeare. In 2006 he entered the studio with a few artists, including Claudette Dion, Guylaine Tanguay, Guy Harvey and his son Pierre, and recorded the demos of 7 songs of this work which he presented, with a summary of the script, to René Angelil at Vegas. But, slyly stricken by illness, Daniel unfortunately did not have time to finish his work.
Tuesday, December 4, 2007, after having completed a day of work in studio with Mario Lirette, he returned home and at the end of the evening, a terrible gastric hemorrhage forced his urgent transport to the Maisonneuve-Rosemont hospital. Fighting against the clock, the doctors managed to stop the bleeding and stabilize his condition, after he had lost nearly three of the five liters of blood that his body contained. Then transferred to the Saint-Luc Hospital of the C.H.U.M. de Montreal, he ended up in surgery to unblock the artery under his liver which, badly clogged, had apparently forced the blood to redirect to his lungs and stomach. Thanks to a new technology developed precisely at the Saint-Luc Hospital, the artery could be reopened and Daniel's life was saved in extremis. After a few days, the doctors said that the operation had been successful and Daniel seemed to be well on his way to recovery. But because of the shock produced by this hemorrhage, some of his organs, such as the kidneys and the pancreas, practically stopped working. He was therefore placed in a room facing the guardhouse, in order to be closely watched.
A week later, his condition, although very serious, had improved. He was regaining strength and his morale seemed good. He gradually began to receive his friends in his room, even occasionally allowing himself to accompany them to a small living room on the first floor. Notwithstanding the seriousness of his condition, the humor was there. He made it a point to amuse his guests with jokes or wacky comments and laughter burst out around him. Finding the time long in the hospital, he undertook the creation of a book of musical tales for children which he said he wanted to produce as soon as it was released. Because he remained convinced that he would soon leave the hospital, but the doctors kept repeating that he was very ill and that his state of health was very serious, even worrying.
For Christmas, he spent the night before, the day and the next day surrounded by his wife Diane and his loved ones, repeating that he was fine and that he was most likely going to return home within a week. Alas, two days later, on December 28, at the end of the evening, the "tip" surgically placed in the artery of his liver collapsed under the pressure and a new hemorrhage occurred suddenly. He was then rushed back to the operating room where doctors had to perform another surgery to correct the problem. Twelve hours later, a third hemorrhage occurred, terribly violent this time and it took more than ten hours of relentless surgical work to stem it. Back in intensive care, Daniel then sank into a deep coma and never came out. Ten days later, Tuesday, January 8, 2008, at 11:25 p.m., exhausted by the ordeal, his Maestro heart stopped beating.
Some people believing in a form of life beyond death, therefore affirmed that he had gone to join his father Lucien, his teacher André Mathieu or others whom he admired so much such as Rachmaninov and Beethoven. Who knows...
One thing is certain, even if time has passed since that sad day, we still remember very well this remarkable and endearing man who, during his too short stay on Earth, tried most of the time to spread joy and cheerfulness around him.