Photo of Gord Downie of The Tragically Hip by Flickr user Moyia Misner-Pellow. Used with a Creative Commons licence.

The Tragically Hip Frontman Gord Downie Dead At 53

Canadian rock band The Tragically Hip has released a statement announcing the passing of its frontman, Gord Downie.

The band released the statement on Twitter Wednesday morning.

 

Downie was diagnosed with glioblastoma, a common type of brain cancer, in December 2015 after suffering a seizure. He underwent surgery to remove most of a tumour in his front left temporal lobe and six weeks of chemotherapy and radiation treatment. His diagnosis was made public in May 2016, and the band decided to tour across Canada one final time.

The final concert was in the band’s hometown of Kingston on August 21, 2016.

Gord Downie and The Tragically Hip perform to a crowd of over 9,900 fans at Budweiser Gardens August 8, 2016. Photo courtesy of Blair Henatyzen.

The Tragically Hip formed in 1984 while four members, Paul Langlois, Rob Baker, and Gord Sinclair were still in high school. Johnny Fay joined two years later.

In 1989, The Tragically Hip released their debut album “Up to Here,” which produced some of the band’s most memorable singles including “Blow at High Dough” and “New Orleans is Sinking.”

In 1992, the band achieved a new level of success with the release of “Fully Completely.”

Despite failing to meet the same level of success in the United States, The Tragically Hip achieved iconic status in Canada winning 16 Juno awards, a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame and was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2005. Canada Post even issued a stamp in the band’s honour in 2013.

A tearful Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reacted to the news saying “We all knew it was coming, we just hoped it wasn’t.”

Trudeau has issued a statement on Gord Downie on Twitter.

“For almost five decades, Gord Downie uncovered and told the stories of Canada. 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.

“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.”

Downie is survived by his wife Laura Leigh Usher and their four children.