(Toronto) Gordon Lightfoot, the legendary folk singer whose choruses spoke of Canadian identity, has died at the age of 84.
Family representative Victoria Lord announced that the musician behind classic Canadian ballads Early Morning Rain and The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald passed away Monday night in a Toronto hospital.
The cause of his death was not immediately disclosed.
Considered one of the most renowned voices of the folk club scene in Yorkville, Toronto in the 1960s, the native of Orillia, Ontario, recorded no less than 20 studio albums, with songs such as than If You Could Read My Mind and Sundown.
Called a “rare talent” by Bob Dylan, Lightfoot’s compositions have been covered by dozens of artists, including Elvis Presley, Barbra Streisand and Sarah McLachlan.
Most of his songs are deeply autobiographical, with lyrics that explore questions of national identity while probing personal conflicts.
Lightfoot made his radio debut with the song (Remember Me) I’m the One in 1962.
It became a household name in 1965 when I’m Not Sayin’ climbed the charts in Canada and helped bring it to prominence in the United States.
When the folk music boom ended in the late 1960s, Lightfoot turned to pop music.
In 1971, he made his debut on the American magazine Billboard’s chart with If You Could Read My Mind, a lyrical reflection on the failure of his marriage. This song peaked at number five and has since spawned numerous covers.
His 1975 song The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald chronicles the sinking of a freighter in the Great Lakes, and his 1966 Canadian Railroad Trilogy depicts the construction of the railroad.
Lightfoot’s popularity peaked in the mid-1970s, when his single and album Sundown topped the Billboard chart for the first and only time.
During his career, he received 12 Juno Awards, including one in 1970, when the award was called Gold Leaf. He has been nominated for four Grammys, was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1970 and was promoted to Companion of the Order of Canada in 2003.
In 1986 he was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.
In 2002, he suffered an aortic aneurysm and then fell into a coma. He must then undergo surgery and a period of rehabilitation which, according to him, extends over two and a half years.
In 2006, a minor stroke prevented him from using his right hand to play guitar for a short time.
He continued to tour nonetheless, aided by a strict training regimen.
He continued his life on the road, ending 2016 with an astonishing schedule of around 80 tour dates.
Lightfoot has continued to perform on stage despite other health issues, including a fall at home in 2021 which forced him to postpone concerts.
Just four months later, he’s back on stage for a three-night engagement at the reopening of Toronto’s renovated Massey Hall, the start of another tour that spanned much of the year. next.