Fortin, André (Dédé)

André (Dédé) Fortin, writer-performer (b at St-Thomas-Didyme Qué 17 November 1962, d at Montréal 8 May 2000).

André Fortin was second-youngest of 11 children. A film student when he was at CEGEP, in 1990 he became the singer and leader of the group Les Colocs. He and his band mates were roommates at 2116 St-Laurent Boulevard. Mike Sawatzky (electric and slide guitars, harmonica and saxophone), Serge Robert (bass, string bass, vocals), who soon became Mononc'Serge", Jimmy Bourgoing (drums, backup vocals, percussion) and André, with other friends such as Robert Finkel and Joel Zifkin, recorded their first album, Les Colocs. The song Julie" (a character inspired by Dédé's niece) went to the top of the charts. Insisting on making the video himself with a pixilation process, Dédé worked relentlessly to turn out a true animation masterpiece. Les Rendez-vous du cinéma québécois paid tribute to him in 2001. In the fall of 1993, Les Colocs opened the Association québécoise de l'industrie du disque, du spectacle et de la vidéo (ADISQ) gala with Mara Tremblay and the Famille Botte. They shook the Salle du Capitol with their interpretation of Passe-moé la puck". Dédé then did Terreur dans le Chinatown, which he directed, shot and edited himself while preparing about 10 songs for his show at Club Soda. During the show later in Paris at Pigal's, Dédé opened the evening with the song Séropositif Boogie" composed by Patrick Napoli himself just before his death.

In 1995, during the evening of the last referendum on Quebec sovereignty, Les Colocs sang at the Medley. The room was full, and the group recorded the double album Astrocetomique that night. The referendum vote result bitterly disappointed Dédé. He cried his eyes out that the Yes" partisans had lost. His songs, although not necessarily politically engaged, had a significant impact on young Francophones because they identified closely with the colourful artist who moved the public with his original words and extraordinary energy in shows.

Then came the video Bon Yeu", which required the participation of approximately 100 extras. Dédé choreographed it with the help of his partner Éric Henry. Serge Robert left the group in 1995, and André Vanderbiest eventually replaced him on bass. Les Colocs went on tour, with a dozen shows in France, Belgium and Switzerland before the release of their album Dehors novembre. Tassez-vous de d'là", the chorus of which was in Wolof (a North Atlantic branch of the Niger-Congo language family) and written by El Hadji Diouf, was a huge success. Les Colocs then toured Quebec. In 1999, 40,000 spectators applauded Les Colocs on the Plains of Abraham, and an international jury awarded them the Prix Miroir of the French-language song for their concerts at the Festivals d'été de Québec. In the fall of that same year, Les Colocs were proclaimed group of the year" at the ADISQ gala. Their tour ended in November. A few months later, on 8 May 2000, Dédé Fortin took his own life in his Rachel Street apartment. On 13 March 2009, a film, Dédé à travers les brumes, which portrays Dédé Fortin's life and career, directed by Jean-Philippe Duval and lauded by the public and the critics, came out in theatres.

Following Dédé's death, his loved ones created the Fondation André Dédé Fortin, its mission being to contribute to suicide prevention efforts in Quebec. A last album including previously unpublished songs, Suite 2116, came out shortly after his death and completed his celebrated work.