Canada is in a state of mourning over news of the death of Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie. The lead singer of the beloved Canadian alt-rock band died Tuesday at the age of 53 after a two-year battle with brain cancer, according to Rolling Stone.
Downie revealed his terminal diagnosis to fans last year before the Tragically Hip released the album Man Machine Poem and embarked on a lengthy Canadian tour, The Hip’s Man Machine Poem Tour, that culminated in an emotional final hometown show at the Rogers K-Rock Centre in Kingston, Ontario. Downie’s final concert with the Hip was live-streamed to millions of fans.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a close friend of Gord Downie, issued a statement on the singer’s death, describing him as “the frontman of one of Canada’s most iconic bands, a rock star, artist, and poet whose evocative lyrics came to define a country.” Trudeau wrote that even after his diagnosis, “Gord did not rest from working for the issues he cared about, and his commitment and passion will continue to motivate Canadians for years to come.”
“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,” Trudeau wrote.
The Prime Minister also held a tearful press conference to announce the death of Gord Downie, saying the late singer loved Canada “with everything he had.” You can see Prime Minister Trudeau’s emotional tribute to his longtime friend below.
In addition to Trudeau’s statement, the city of Toronto announced plans to dim the lit “Toronto” sign at 11 p.m. tonight in honor of Gord Downie at the request of Tornoto mayor John Tory.
— City of Toronto (@TorontoComms) October 18, 2017
Many celebrities and rock bands took to social media to remember Gord Downie. The Canadian rock band Rush wrote, “It’s a sad sad day for Canada and Canadian music… rest in peace Gord.. and thank you…”
The band Nickelback took to Twitter to write: “Husband, father, poet, activist, icon & fearless performer, Gord Downie, has passed. Thank you for inspiring so many with a life well-lived.”
Other celebrities, including singer Bryan Adams and This Is Spinal Tap alum Michael McKean took to social media to pay respects to the beloved Tragically Hip frontman and Canadian icon.
Canada's identity & culture are richer for Gord Downie's work.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) October 18, 2017
I've asked that the Toronto sign be lit in red & white today to honour Gord Downie. The sign will be dimmed tonight at 11 p.m. to mourn this great Canadian. #TragicallyHip
— John Tory (@JohnTory) October 18, 2017
RIP @gorddownie Thanks for the music.
— Bryan Adams (@bryanadams) October 18, 2017
— Tom Cochrane (@TomCochraneMUS) October 18, 2017
Gord Downie taught us all a valuable lesson in the importance of art and expression. What a mighty fine poet and a treasure to us all. ❤️
— THE FLATLINERS (@theflatliners) October 18, 2017
— Better Thãn Ezra (@ThatsMrNeil) October 18, 2017
What I loved about Gord Downie was that lead singers aren't supposed to sing like that, but he did anyway.
— Michael McKean (@MJMcKean) October 18, 2017
RIP Gord Downie. ????????
— Seth Rogen (@Sethrogen) October 18, 2017
In addition to the ongoing social media tributes, the Toronto Maple Leafs are expected to hold a moment of silence for Gord Downie before Wednesday night’s ice hockey game against the Detroit Red Wings, according to Sportsnet.
Take a look at the video below to see Gord Downie and the Tragically Hip performing the song “Grace, Too.”
[Featured Image by George Pimentel/Canada for Haiti via Getty Images]