Statement from Tragically Hip Website
October 18, 2017
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.
We would like to thank all the kind folks at KGH and Sunnybrook, Gord’s bandmates, management team, friends and fans. Thank you for all the help and support over the past two years.
Thank you everyone for all the respect, admiration and love you have given Gord throughout the years – those tender offerings touched his heart and he takes them with him now as he walks among the stars.
Love you forever Gord.
The Downie Family
Tom Genes article after hearing of Downie’s diagnosis:
The rock world has been rocked repeated this year with sudden deaths of icons. This week more sorry news came to our neighbors to the north as Canadians heard the depressing truth of the incurable condition of The Tragically Hip’s leader, main entertainer and songwriter Gord Downie. Downie, 52, was diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer and he has decided to spend his final months on earth doing what he has done for the past 30 years- perform on stage.
In America this news was a soft echo of few retweets, while in Canada it struck almost with the whammy of Prince’s sudden departure last month. You see The Hip, as their closest fans call them, are more than huge in Canada. Nine of their 13 albums to date have reached number 1 in their homeland and their 14 Junos (the Canadian equivalent of a Grammy) are the most for any band in the country ever. They entered the Canadian Music Hall Of Fame over a decade ago. One of Canada’s top news organizations CBC, stated upon reporting the news of Downie’s condition: “The Tragically Hip’s front man has long established himself as one of the country’s greatest songwriters, his lyrics giving a voice to Canada’s land, its history and, at times, its official winter sport.” Remember all this from a country that produced Neil Young.
Originally I fell for their Road Apples album in 1991 (an album by the way that has one platinum 8x in Canada). The song Three Pistols to me still defines rock and roll with meaning. The song ios a tale of a Canadian artist that lived in the early 20th century as one of The Group Of Seven and Downie’s lyrics rock with impact. That’s what he did. He wrote of his home and his place in it and the results are both whimsical (“Fifty Mission Cap”- about a goal scored in overtime that gave the Maple Leafs the Stanley Cup), arching (“Bobcaygeon” about anti-semitic riots in the Ontario town of the song’s name) and heartfelt (”Done and Done” a ballad for Downie’s sick wife.)
As one of a rare breed of die-hard American fans of the band, I benefited from some crazy access to the band through the years. Being upclose often to witness Downie’s trademark microphone spinning, sweat induced seduction, and shaman style interpretations of the songs live that made them instant sellouts north of the border yet for the strangest of reasons relatively unknown in the states. I managed to see the band numerous times in small intimate settings as a result of their lack of popularity in America and more than once stuck around as the band often times would connect with their fans after shows. Downie came off a pleasant star with rare talent and still awe inspired at his success.
One time the band played on a Thursday night in Toronto in front of 45,000 fans in a football stadium. The following night in Grand Rapids Michigan I caught them with my brothers at a small strip mall bar with less than 300. Performance wise, it was the same show. Amazing energy, blazing rock and roll rifts and poignant moments of retrospective lyrics on a ridiculously personal level, that’s what defined The Tragically Hip. And that’s how Downie has chosen to end his career with a series of shows in his homeland that have sold out in minutes.
Though my biggest wish is to catch one of those shows I’d settle for a smaller one and that is for more of you, American rock and roll fans, to get hip to The Hip.