RIP Gordon Downie

Canadian rock musician, writer, and occasional actor Gord Downie, who was the lead singer and lyricist for the Canadian rock band The Tragically Hip, passed away last night after a more than year-long battle with brain cancer. Canada mourns the loss of one of its most celebrated musicians, and the industry is undoubtedly poorer without him here. But before he passed Downie had the rare privilege to make peace with the inevitable and to wish the nation, and his millions of fans, goodbye. He undertook a sprawling farewell tour across Canada in the summer of 2016 that will be remembered as among the most important to grace the nation — an extraordinary gift bequeathed by a dying man to those who adored him.

Downie was born in the small town of Amherstview, Ontario, in the early months of 1964. He attended high school in nearby Kingston, where he was the lead singer of a punk-rock group called The Slinks. Downie’s classmates, Gord Sinclair and Rob Baker, had a band of their own at the time, called The Rodents, and the three admired one another’s taste and sound. At a certain point they decided to abandon the nearly obsolete punk scene and form a rock band together. They called it The Tragically Hip.The Hip honed their style in small clubs around the city. By the time they graduated Kingston Collegiate and enrolled in University — Downey elected to study film at Queens — their live show, consisting mainly of covers of bar-band staples, had become popular enough locally that they were performing nearly every weekend.

With the Hip, he released 14 studio albums, two live albums, one EP, and 54 singles. Nine of their albums have reached No. 1 on the Canadian charts. They have received numerous Canadian music awards, including 16 Juno Awards. He released five solo albums: Coke Machine Glow (2001), Battle of the Nudes (2003), The Grand Bounce (2010), And the Conquering Sun with The Sadies (2014) and Secret Path (2016).

The Tragically Hip announced on their website on 24 May 2016 that Downie had been diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour. Doctors at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre confirmed the same day that it was a glioblastoma, which had responded favourably to radiation and chemotherapy treatment but was not curable. Downie toured with the band in summer 2016 to support Man Machine Poem, the band’s 14th studio album. The tour’s final concert was held at the Rogers K-Rock Centre in Kingston, Ontario on 20 August 2016 and was broadcast and streamed live by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation on television, radio and internet. It was viewed by an estimated 11.7 million people. His wife, herself a cancer survivour who separated from him a while ago, and he have 4 kids.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*