2016 is hell bent on killing as many celebrities and beloved people as possible. Gord Downie, the frontman for the Tragically Hip and one of Canada’s biggest rock stars, has been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. The band announced the news on its website on Tuesday. “We have some very tough news to share with you today, and we wish it wasn’t so.” The diagnosis, they said, had come in December. “Since then, obviously, he’s endured a lot of difficult times, and he has been fighting hard. In privacy along with his family, and through all of this, we’ve been standing by him.”
The band, which has been together for more than three decades, was formed at an Ontario high school in the early 1980s. The group swiftly became a mainstay on the Canadian music scene, releasing 13 studio albums – nine of which reached No 1 in Canada – and winning 14 Juno awards, which recognise excellence in Canadian music. The group was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2005. Downie, 52, has also released three solo albums. Downie’s doctor, James Perry, said on Tuesday that the musician had undergone surgery and six weeks of chemotherapy and radiation after being diagnosed with an invasive brain tumour known as glioblastoma. Downie has so far responded well to treatment, but the tumour is impossible to completely remove from the brain, said Perry. “It’s my difficult duty today to tell you Gord Downie’s tumour is incurable.”
The Tragically Hip said plans were in the works for Downie and the band to tour Canada this summer, despite the diagnosis. “This feels like the right thing to do now, for Gord, and for all of us … So we’re going to dig deep and try to make this our best tour yet.” The tour will coincide with the release of the band’s latest album, Man Machine Poem. The Tragically Hip will unveil their tour dates later in the week. The 14-time Juno Award-winning group – the most ever for a band and the fourth-most ever for an artist at the annual Canadian music awards – remain a beloved marquee act in their native country.