Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Tragically Hip singer Gord Downie dead at 53

Gord Downie, the lead singer of The Tragically Hip, died on October 17 at the age of 53 after a lengthy battle with terminal brain cancer.

“Last night Gord quietly passed away with his beloved children and family close by,” said the Downie family in a statement on Wednesday. “Gord knew this day was coming - his response was to spend this precious time as he always had - making music, making memories and expressing deep gratitude to his family and friends for a life well lived, often sealing it with a kiss… on the lips.”

Downie was diagnosed with a form of brain cancer called glioblastoma, which was discovered after the rocker suffered a seizure in his hometown of Kingston, ON in December of 2015.

A brain scan revealed a tumour on the left side of the singer’s brain that would be impossible to remove completely. Doctors at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, ON were able to surgically “excise the bulk of the tumour”, following which the singer underwent radiation and chemotherapy treatments.

In May of 2016, The Tragically Hip shared the news of Downie’s health status and simultaneously announced a farewell Canadian tour that would conclude with an August 20, 2016 finale in the band’s hometown that was broadcast live across Canada by the nation’s public broadcaster CBC and streamed by hennemusic.

Calling it “an unprecedented event,” the CBC broadcast and stream drew 11.7 million Canadians – or about one-third of the country’s population – with the television broadcast averaging 4 million viewers.

One of Canada’s most beloved bands, The Tragically Hip formed in 1984 in Kingston, their name taken from a sketch in former Monkees member Michael Nesmith's 1981 long-form music video "Elephant Parts.”

A self-titled 1987 EP put the group on the road before 1989’s full-length “Up To Here”, delivered Canadian rock radio staples like “New Orleans Is Sinking”, “Blow At High Dough” and “38 Years Old.”

A string of six Canadian No. 1 albums followed while The Tragically Hip rode its commercial wave through their first decade to sales of almost 5 million copies in their homeland as Downie’s lyrical references to Canadian places and themes built a distinct and unique connection between the group and their fans.

Downie would also issue five solo records in the new century, with his 2016 set, “Secret Path”, drawing attention to the history and plight of Canada’s Indigenous people and their issues, for which he became a strong advocate in his final years.

The Tragically Hip issued 13 studio albums to huge success in their homeland, earning an unprecedented 16 Juno Awards for a band, and inductions into both the Canadian Music Hall Of Fame and Canada’s Walk Of Fame.

“For almost five decades, Gord Downie uncovered and told the stories of Canada,” said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a statement. “He was the frontman of one of Canada’s most iconic bands, a rock star, artist, and poet whose evocative lyrics came to define a country. The Tragically Hip’s music invited us to explore places we had never been – from Mistaken Point to Churchill – and helped us understand each other, while capturing the complexity and vastness of the place we call home.

“Gord’s command of language was profound. He painted landscapes with his words, elevating Canadian geography, historical figures, and myths. When he spoke, he gave us goosebumps and made us proud to be Canadian. Our identity and culture are richer because of his music, which was always raw and honest – like Gord himself.”

See also:

The Tragically Hip dominate Canadian charts following farewell concert
VIDEO: Pearl Jam dedicate song to The Tragically Hip during Chicago show
The Tragically Hip perform farewell concert in Kingston
hennemusic LIVE: Watch farewell concert by The Tragically Hip
Search The Tragically Hip at hennemusic