The Tragically Hip’s Gord Downie dies aged 53

Gord Downie: 1964-2017
Gord Downie: 1964-2017 (Image credit: Getty)

The Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie has died at the age of 53.

The Canadian vocalist was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in May 2016, with the news of his death confirmed on the band’s Facebook page.

A statement from Downie’s family reads: “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.”

The statement continues: “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.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has also paid tribute to Downie on his website.

He says: “Gord’s command of language was profound. He painted landscapes with his words, elevating Canadian geography, historical figures, and myths. When he spoke, he gave us goosebumps and made us proud to be Canadian. Our identity and culture are richer because of his music, which was always raw and honest – like Gord himself.

“On behalf of all Canadians, Sophie and I offer our deepest condolences to Gord’s family, friends, bandmates and crew members, and his many, many fans. He will be sorely missed.”

Rush, who previously made a $40,000 donation to the Gord Downie Fund For Brain Cancer Research, also paid tribute to Downie on Facebook, posting two images of the singer with the caption: “It’s a sad, sad day for Canada and Canadian music. Rest in peace Gord.. and thank you.”

Following the news of his illness, The Tragically Hip went on the road, with their final show in their hometown of Kingston, Ontario, in August last year broadcast live across the world. More than 11 million people across Canada watched the live performance.

Along with his musical career, Downie had a variety of acting roles, including an appearance with Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson in the Trailer Park Boys film The Big Dirty.

The Tragically Hip released a total of 13 studio albums, their last being 2016’s Man Machine Poem.

Scott Munro
Louder e-commerce editor

Scott has spent more than 30 years in newspapers and magazines as an editor, production editor, sub-editor, designer, writer and reviewer. After initially joining our news desk in the summer of 2014, he moved to the e-commerce team full-time in 2020. He maintains Louder’s buyer’s guides, scouts out the best deals for music fans and reviews headphones, speakers, books and more. He's written more than 11,000 articles across Louder, Classic Rock, Metal Hammer and Prog and has previous written for publications including IGN, the Sunday Mirror, Daily Record and The Herald covering everything from daily news and weekly features, to video games, travel and whisky. Scott grew up listening to rock and prog, cutting his teeth on bands such as Marillion and Magnum before his focus shifted to alternative and post-punk in the late 80s. His favourite bands are Fields Of The Nephilim, The Cure, New Model Army, All About Eve, The Mission, Ned's Atomic Dustbin and Drab Majesty, but he also still has a deep love of Rush.