Gord Downie, the iconic Candian singer and songwriter most famous for being the lead singer of The Tragically Hip, has passed away at the age of 53, according to a statement from his family.
Downie had announced in May 2016 that he had been diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor, so the news of his passing is not completely unexpected. Still, for the millions of Hip fans in Canada and around the world, the news is particularly hard to digest.
His family released a brief statement through the band’s official website and social media accounts:
— The Tragically Hip (@thehipdotcom) October 18, 2017
Downie founded The Tragically Hip with some high school buddies in 1983. Over the next three decades, they would sell millions of records and become one of the quintessential sounds of an entire country, as their music was undeniably Canadian. They sang about things like hockey and small towns in Northen Ontario. They were a mainstay in local music halls like the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto, as well as selling out bigger venues around the country.
After announced Downie’s cancer diagnosis, the band spent most of 2016 touring to support their 14th studio album, Man Machine Poem. Their final concert was aired live on CBC (Canada’s public television network) and was viewed by an estimated 11.7 million people. That’s basically a third of the entire country’s population, to put it in perspective.
Downie will be missed deeply by his family and friends, and by the millions of fans who spent the last 30 years enjoying the music he created with such passion. RIP Gord.