As the frontman for The Tragically Hip, Gord Downie’s voice has provided the soundtrack for so many Canadians who came of age in the ’90s, continuing to earn legions of fans as the group’s sound evolved over 13 full-length studio albums.
Downie, 52, has been diagnosed with a form of terminal brain cancer. The news came out early this morning.
He signed his first record deal in 1987, four years after he and some friends from his hometown of Kingston, Ont., formed a band out of high school. They started out playing cover songs for the students at Queen’s University.
But the Hip — now Downie, Gord Sinclair, Johnny Fay, Rob Baker, Paul Langlois — quickly vaulted into the Canadian consciousness. They have 14 Juno awards, a star on the Canadian Walk of Fame, and the sold-out shows to prove it.
Downie told CBC he quit smoking in 2000 in order to improve his vocal range, to allow him to create new melodies and push the band in new directions musically.
He loves hockey, especially the Boston Bruins, telling CBC in an earlier interview that one of his favourite childhood memories was celebrating the team’s 1972 Stanley Cup victory with his brother.
He would have been eight at the time.
That’s influenced the direction of some of his songs; as The Hip’s lyricist he’s explored some of the country’s sports myths through music.
Downie is a father of four, but, after 30 years, he said his bandmates are a sort of family.
“The relationship I think about and that I talk about the most is my relationship to these guys.”
Laura Fraser, CBC News | Photo: stcatharinesstandard.ca
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Gord Downie and his family
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