Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie, the singer of one of Canada’s most popular bands, died Tuesday night after a long battle with cancer, according to a statement on the band’s website. He was 53.
The singer suffered from glioblastoma, an incurable form of brain cancer, which was discovered after he underwent a seizure in December of 2015. He died surrounded by his children and family, according to the statement.
“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,” the statement said.
The singer and the band put on a brave face throughout his illness, which was announced in May of last year concurrent with an announcement that the group’s surviving members — Paul Langlois, Rob Baker, Gord Sinclair and Johnny Fay — would undertake a final summer tour “for Gord, and for all of us.” The last concert of the tour was broadcast nationally across Canada on CBC.
While the group did not make a significant impact in most of the rest of the world, in Canada the Tragically Hip were a national institution, a source of pride second probably only to Rush in terms of familiarity and affection. A rough analogy might be Bruce Springsteen to New Jersey or Billy Joel to Long Island.