The Tragically Hip’s Gord Downie Has Terminal Brain Cancer

gorddownie2016 is continuing to take its brutal toll on the Rock community, and I am goddam sick of it. The Tragically Hip announced today that lead singer Gord Downie was diagnosed in December with inoperable brain cancer. Although The Hip never made much of an impact Stateside, they have been one of Canada’s biggest Rock acts for over 20 years, and are arguably the second-most important Canadian rockers of all time, after Neil Young.

What sets this story apart from the other Rock losses this year is the advance warning. The band announced the news on their website this morning, and then said they’ve decided to go on tour this summer: “This feels like the right thing to do now, for Gord, and for all of us … so, we’re going to dig deep, and try to make this our best tour yet.”

On the one hand, the advance news of Downie’s impending fate makes the situation even sadder in a way. At 52 years old, Downie still writes and performs with a truly unique creative energy, and the prospect of this terrible disease inexorably taking life forces out of him is really heartbreaking.

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On the other hand, we are all being given one last chance to see him perform, which is an opportunity we didn’t get with the passing of Bowie, Frey, and all the others who were cut down this year. Obviously, these concerts are going to be emotionally-fraught affairs, but knowing what a consummate showman Gord Downie is, you can be sure they are going to be spectacular Rock events.

Details of the tour are still to come. If they do end up playing anywhere near you, it promises to be a concert you will never forget. We will keep you posted. In the meantime, let’s wish Gordie all the strength in the world.


Photo credit: By Sarah Naegels from Ottawa, Canada ( – image description page) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

4 comments to “The Tragically Hip’s Gord Downie Has Terminal Brain Cancer”
  1. I bet those last shows are going to be incredibly moving. I love that he’s going out doing what he loves.

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