This week The Tragically Hip announced some very sad news via its website: Lead singer Gord Downie has been undergoing treatment for terminal brain cancer.
But despite the fact that Downie is gravely ill, the band, consisting of members Gordon Downie (vocals), Bobby Baker (guitar), Paul Langlois (guitar), Gord Sinclair (bass) and Johnny Fay (drums), has decided to put on one final tour in support of its 14th album, Man Machine Poem, which will be released on June 17.
According to the band’s website, the tour will kick off in Victoria on July 22 and end where it all began, in Kingston, the band’s hometown, on Aug. 20.
To celebrate this iconic Canadian band, we’re taking a look back at some of its greatest achievements and most memorable moments, starting from where it all began.
1. Performing at Toronto’s Horseshoe Tavern
Formed in Kingston, Ontario, in 1984, The Tragically Hip took its name from a Michael Nesmith video titled Elephant Parts. The band was passionate about its music, and this was evident in its incredible live presence, which not only endeared them to fans over the next three decades but also won over MCA Records president Bruce Dickinson, who signed the band after watching its performance at Toronto’s Horseshoe Tavern.
2. Earning the respect of Americans
The band quickly earned fans in its native Canada, but after its third album, Fully Completely (1993), it became an international success and began winning over American fans. Over the next two years, The Tragically Hip’s star continued to rise, and its fourth studio album, Day for Night (1994), resulted in sold-out tours across Canada and Midwest America as well as a spot on Saturday Night Live.
3. Enjoying immense success
Unlike many bands that fizzle out after a few years, The Tragically Hip enjoyed longevity. With a career spanning 30 years and 13 studio albums, the band has earned a legion of loyal Canadian fans, with eight of its 13 studio LPs topping the Canadian Albums Chart.
4. Charting high in more ways than one
According to a Rolling Stone readers’ poll conducted in 2013, The Tragically Hip placed at 8 out of 10 greatest Canadian rock stars. The band has a huge Canadian audience and successfully sells out most venues.
5. Winning a slew of awards
The Tragically Hip has many awards under its belt, including the 1997 Juno Award for Album of the Year for Trouble at the Henhouse and 1995’s Juno Award for Entertainer of the Year (as well as 12 others). Perhaps the most notable award was when the band was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2005 at the Juno Awards Show in Winnipeg.
6. Performing for Queen Elizabeth II
In 2002, The Tragically Hip earned a spot on Canada’s Walk of Fame. This same year, it performed for Queen Elizabeth II during her tour of Canada.
7. Gracing postage stamps
In 2013, The Tragically Hip was honoured with a postage stamp series. Canada Post paid tribute to the band, along with Rush, The Guess Who and Beau Dommage.
8. Getting a massive thumbs-up from Justin Trudeau
Even Prime Minister Justin Trudeau agrees that The Tragically Hip is an iconic Canadian band, and after the news of Downie’s illness broke, Trudeau took to Twitter to honour the singer.
Gord Downie is a true original who has been writing Canada’s soundtrack for more than 30 years. #Courage
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) May 24, 2016