Yesterday Canadian icon and well-known country / folk singer Stompin’ Tom Connors passes away due to natural causes at the age of 77. Focusing his career exclusively on his native Canada, Connors is credited with writing more than 300 songs and has released four dozen albums, with total sales of nearly 4 million copies.
Born Charles Thomas Connors (known as Tommy Messer) in Saint John, New Brunswick he was was later adopted by the Aylward family in Skinners Pond, Prince Edward Island. At the age of 15 he left his adoptive family to hitchhike across Canada, a journey that consumed the next 13 years of his life as he travelled between various part-time jobs while writing songs on his guitar. Typically writing about Canadian lore and history, some of Connors’ better-known songs include “Bud the Spud”, “Big Joe Mufferaw”, “The Black Donnellys”, “The Martin Hartwell Story”, “Reesor Crossing Tragedy”, “Sudbury Saturday Night” and “The Hockey Song” (also called “The Good Old Hockey Game”; the last is frequently played over sound systems at NHL games.
Connors’ habit of stomping the heel of his left boot to keep rhythm earned him the nickname “that stompin’ guy”, or “Stomper”. It wasn’t until Canada’s 100th birthday, July 1, 1967, that the name Stompin’ Tom Connors was first used, when Boyd MacDonald, a waiter at the King George Tavern in Peterborough, Ontario introduced Tom on stage. Fearcely nationalist, he famously boycotted the Junos for protesting the fact that Canadian musical artists living and based in the US were eligible for awards. He felt that in view of the fact that they had chosen to live and work in the U.S., it was only fair that they competed with Americans for Grammy Awards, and left the Juno competition to those who lived and conducted business in Canada.