Disco singer Martin Stevens, famous for his hit Love Is in the Air, died Wednesday morning, family members announced on social media. He was 69 years old and had suffered from a lung disease for several years.
Born Roger Prud’homme, he was one of the leading disco artists in Quebec at the end of the 1970s. It was the era of Lime Light, a legendary discotheque in the west of downtown; Montreal was then one of the hubs of this musical style that changed pop forever, despite the aversion it sometimes aroused.
In 1978, in the heart of the disco wave, Martin Stevens had already delivered a few pieces in French when the Australian singer John Paul Young sent him a demo of the piece. Love Is in the Air, he was about to record. Seduced, he also records a version of this song. In Canada, it is his interpretation that will rise to the top of the charts; elsewhere in the world, it is rather that of John Paul Young who will be a hit.
Even today, we regularly hear Love Is in the Air on radio and TV. But Martin Stevens will never have received a royalty for his famous performance. “It’s not clear what happened, but he got screwed with the copyrights. Fortunately, at the end of his life, he had made peace with that, ”explains Sophie Dupuis Boudreau, the daughter of the spouse of Martin Stevens, who adored her stepfather.
To earn a living and support his family, Martin Stevens regularly went to sing Love Is in the Air in shows and private parties. Even though he had been ill for several years, he still enjoyed singing that heady earworm. “At the end, he was on oxygen. He arrived at events with his pump, he took it off to sing Love Is in the Air, then he would put his mask back on and leave. This song was his whole life, and he never got tired of doing it, ”says his daughter-in-law.
Martin Stevens was never able to repeat the feat of Love Is in the Air, which has often earned him the title of a one-time success artist, of ” one hit wonder ». Over time, he had come to terms with it, says Mme Dupuis Boudreau.
“He had other great songs, but the public never asked him: he only wanted to hear Love Is in the Air. And he accepted that, because even he was his favorite, ”she said, moved by the death of the man she had known for 25 years.
Martin Stevens had found peace with his spouse, his daughter-in-law and the son of the latter. But the steep decline of disco in the 1980s was difficult. Like many other stars of the era, Martin Stevens struggled with addiction. He had also poured out on the subject in his autobiography. Sex, drugs and discoreleased in 2007. More recently, he participated in the documentary series DISCObroadcast on the Vrai platform, which looks back on the key period of disco in Montreal.