Below, watch a selection of videos by Downie and his band.
By Fred Mills
In December of 2015, Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie was diagnosed with brain cancer, and he disclosed the news publically a few months later. The Canadian band – utterly beloved in its country and beyond – subsequently released final album Man Machine Poem and mounted a farewell tour of Canada that included a massive August concert in Downie’s hometown of Kingston (it was broadcast live and clips can be found on YouTube). This Tuesday, October 17, Downie passed away from his cancer, at the age of 53.
Downie’s family posted a statement at GordDownie.com that read, in part,
“Last night Gord quietly passed away with his beloved children and family close by.
“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.
“Gord said he had lived many lives. As a musician, he lived “the life” for over 30 years, lucky to do most of it with his high school buddies. At home, he worked just as tirelessly at being a good father, son, brother, husband and friend. No one worked harder on every part of their life than Gord. No one.”
With 14 studio albums since forming in 1984, the Hip frequently ruled the charts, notching multiple Platinum certifications and 16 Canadian Juno Awards. Along the way they became a genuine Canadian institution, and it wouldn’t be out of line to compare them to Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band in terms of their near constant presence in the minds of their countrymen. The fact that Downie, as a lyricist (and also as a solo artist, with five albums to his credit), typically invoked Canada in his songs and was also quite tireless with his work on environmental and indigenous peoples causes.
A 23-song solo album titled Introduce Yerself is slated to be released at the end of this month.
Yesterday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau posted an emotional video, paying tribute to Downie.