Gordon Lightfoot, the unbelievable society vocalist whose shimmering holds back told a story of Canadian character that was sent out to audience members around the world, has kicked the bucket at 84.
Victoria Lord, the musician’s longtime publicist and a family representative, reported that the musician passed away on Monday evening at a Toronto hospital.
A reason for death was not quickly accessible.
Lightfoot went on to record at least 20 studio albums and write hundreds of songs, including “Early Morning Rain,” “Carefree Highway,” and “Sundown,” making him one of the most well-known voices to emerge from Toronto’s Yorkville folk club scene in the 1960s.
“We have lost one of our most prominent artist musicians,” tweeted State leader Justin Trudeau late Monday.
“Gordon Lightfoot helped shape Canada’s soundscape by capturing the spirit of our nation in his music. May his music keep on moving people in the future, and may his heritage live on until the end of time.”
Different VIPs and lawmakers added their gestures of recognition of Lightfoot’s art. He was described as “a wonderful performer” by author Stephen King, and “such a decent man” and “musician with a magnificent tenor voice that will last forever” by former Ontario premier Bob Rae.
Bob Dylan once referred to Lightfoot as a “rare talent.” His timeless compositions have transcended generations and musical genres.
Many specialists take care of his work, including Elvis Presley, Barbra Streisand, Harry Belafonte, Johnny Money, Anne Murray, Jane’s Dependence, Sarah McLachlan and, maybe most shockingly, dance supergroup Stars on 54 who turned his work of art “In the event that You Could Guess what I Might be thinking” into a disco-pop interest for the 1998 film “54.”
The majority of his songs are incredibly autobiographical, and the lyrics ask questions about his own experiences and national identity in a candid and unfiltered way.
The Great Lakes ore freighter’s demise was the subject of his 1975 song “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” and the Canadian Railroad Trilogy from 1966 depicted the railway’s construction.
He once stated, “I simply write the songs about where I am and where I’m from.” Poems about situations are what I make of them.
Frequently portrayed as a graceful narrator, Lightfoot remained definitely cognizant of his social impact. He took the role very seriously.
“I very much prefer to remain there and be a piece of the chain of command and take care of the obligations I’ve obtained throughout the long term,” he said in a 2001 meeting.
However, he was modest about his position: What does it feel like to be a symbol? It makes me feel the same as any other human being on the planet.
Although Lightfoot’s parents were aware of his musical abilities from an early age, he never intended to become a well-known balladeer.
He wanted to be a jazz musician and started singing in his church choir. The soprano won a talent contest at the Kiwanis Music Festival in Toronto’s Massey Hall when she was 13 years old.
Lightfoot stated in a 2018 interview, “I remember the thrill of being in front of the crowd.”
It was a stepping stone for me because my father drove all the time. I organized events all over. I performed for weddings, various clubs, and the Ladies’ Auxiliary.
His barbershop quartet, The Collegiate Four, won a CBC talent competition while he was still in high school because the appeal of those early days persisted. In 1956, he picked up his first guitar, and in the months that followed, he started writing songs. He failed algebra the first time, possibly because of his love for music. He returned to the class and graduated in 1957.
By that time, Lightfoot had already written his first serious song, “The Hula Hoop Song,” which was inspired by the wildly popular toy for kids. He left for the United States at the age of 18 to study music for a year after attempts to sell the song failed. The excursion was subsidized to some degree by cash saved from a task conveying cloths to resorts around his old neighborhood.
However, the lifestyle in Hollywood did not suit him, and Lightfoot soon returned to Canada because he was missing his family. Before landing a role as a square dancer on CBC’s “Country Hoedown,” he pledged to relocate to Toronto to pursue his musical ambitions and accepted any job that became available, including a position at Royal Bank.
Fran’s Restaurant, a downtown family-owned diner that embraced his folk sensibilities, was one of his first gigs. It was there he met individual performer Ronnie Hawkins, who encouraged him to take his music to additional appropriate spots, like close by Steele’s Bar.
Lightfoot was living with a few friends at the time in a condemned building in Yorkville, which was then a hipster neighborhood where future stars like Neil Young and Joni Mitchell would learn their craft in clubs filled with smoke. During that time, he made friends with the local folk duo Ian and Sylvia, who became huge fans of his work and eventually recorded two of his songs as his star first started to rise.
With the 1962 single “(Remember Me) I’m the One),” Lightfoot made his mark on the radio. This led to a number of hit songs and collaborations with other local musicians. When he began performing at the Mariposa Folk Festival in Orillia, Ontario, where he grew up, Lightfoot developed a friendship in the same year, making him the festival’s most devoted regular performer.
By 1964, he was getting good press around town, which attracted Riverboat owner Bernie Fiedler, who showed up at one of Lightfoot’s Steele performances with an offer to pay him twice as much.
By the following year, audiences were beginning to gather in greater numbers, and Lightfoot’s song “I’m Not Sayin'” had become a hit in Canada, which helped spread his name throughout the United States.
Several covers by different specialists didn’t hurt all things considered. “Ribbon of Darkness,” a 1965 recording by Marty Robbins, reached No. 1 on the country charts in the United States, and Lightfoot’s song “For Lovin’ Me” made it into the Top 30 in the United States. The melody, which Dylan once said he wished he’d recorded, has since been covered by many others.
Lightfoot played at the Newport Folk Festival that summer, the same year Dylan shocked fans by switching from his folkie persona to playing the electric guitar.
Lightfoot was already effortlessly adjusting to pop music when the folk music boom ended in the late 1960s.
With the song “If You Could Read My Mind,” which was a reflection on a failing marriage and was compared to “an old-time movie about a ghost from a wishing well,” he made his debut on the Billboard chart in 1971. It got to No. 5 and has since been covered by numerous artists.
Lightfoot’s ubiquity crested during the 1970s when the two his single and collection, “Nightfall,” beat the Announcement graphs, his sole time doing as such.
Lightfoot was invited onto the stage when Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue performed at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens in 1975. Subsequently, he facilitated a get-together for the team at his home where he was recording singing his people contemporary’s “Number In Plain D,” which later showed up in Dylan’s pseudo-narrative “Renaldo and Clara.”
However, Lightfoot’s immense fame also brought about public intrusions into his personal life. His divorce from Brita Ingegerd Olaisson, a Swedish woman, in 1973 made headlines and was dubbed the most expensive divorce settlement in Canadian legal history at the time.
In an interview with The Canadian Press in 2012, he recalled, “It took me years to get over it when my first marriage broke up.”
I had a wonderful wife and two wonderful children, but the business just consumed me. I was devoured by the women. I couldn’t help it. I can now, yet not then, at that point. And afterward it was liquor, and there could be no more prominent impetus to getting into further (inconvenience) than drinking.”
For sure, Lightfoot got through an exceptionally open fight with liquor abuse and other individual obstacles, especially with the ones who enlivened his verses.
His 1975 collection “Cold on the Shoulder” purportedly considers his messed up relationship with Cathy Smith, a grieved previous sweetheart who waited to him long after they separated.
Seven years after its delivery, Smith was indicted for compulsory homicide for giving entertainer John Belushi a deadly portion of medications. Lightfoot was drawn into the scandal when the story broke in the tabloids.
He resented being portrayed as a drug user and claimed that he had been dating Smith for more than a decade, long before she used hard drugs. However, he also felt obligated to assist her in getting back on her feet. He helped her get her memoir published and gave her money after her 1988 release from jail.
In 1989, Lightfoot married Elizabeth Moon. The couple got divorced in 2011 despite the fact that his second marriage resulted in the birth of two children.
After three years he marry Kim Hasse, an Iowa-raised lady who he’d met at a few shows. Even though they were 23 years apart, the two became inseparable, with Hasse frequently accompanying Lightfoot at public events.
He stated at the time, “It’s actually quite surprising, I never thought I’d have a girlfriend again for as long as I’ve lived.”
Lightfoot won 12 Juno Awards in his career, including one in 1970, when it was called the Gold Leaf. The RPM Awards, which were held prior to the Junos in the 1960s, also honored him four times as the best folk singer. He received four Grammy Awards nominations, was awarded the Order of Canada in 1970 at the age of 32, and was elevated to the rank of Companion of the Order of Canada in 2003.
He was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, which is now known as the Canadian Recording Industry Hall of Fame, in 1986. He got the Lead representative General’s Honor in 1997 and was guided into the Canadian Blue grass Music Lobby Of Distinction in 2001.
In addition to his accomplishments as a musician, Lightfoot became an actor in the 1982 Canadian film “Harry Tracy, Desperado,” starring Helen Shaver and Bruce Dern. Later that decade, he made an appearance on an episode of the prime-time soap “Hotel,” where he used his own experience to play an alcoholic musician.
Persistent health issues slowed him down, but rarely prevented him from performing live for the majority of his final career.
He had an aortic aneurysm in 2002, went into a coma, underwent additional surgery, and spent two and a half years recovering, according to him. He later claimed that his voice lost “some of the starch” as a result of the health scare.
He had a minor stroke in 2006, which made it temporarily difficult for him to play guitar with his right hand.
He nonetheless continued his tour. He maintained his fitness by working out six days a week.
When the CanWest newspaper chain put the false headline on some of their websites at the beginning of 2010, Lightfoot found out about his own death. A prank call to the management office of the late singer and friend Ronnie Hawkins was used by the media company to capitalize on buzz on social media.
Lightfoot laughed off the hoax, saying that he found out about his death while driving back from a dentist appointment.
He chuckled to CP24, “I was quite surprised to hear it myself.”
Six years later, Lightfoot completed an incredible 80 tour dates in a single year. He claimed that each of his three alternating setlists lasted two hours and five minutes because they were so focused.
He told CP in an interview, “At this age, my challenge is doing the best show I can.”
“The seriousness with which I take it is greatly improved from where I was.”
However, a lifetime of touring came with a heavy personal cost, leaving him feeling guilty to this day.
In light of his absence from the care of his six children, he acknowledged, “I was not always the dad I should’ve been.”
“I’ve buckled down on working on that for a long time now.”
He gave up smoking at age 79. Cigarettes, that is,” he determined in a 2019 discussion. In addition, he returned to the stage four months later to reopen the renovated Massey Hall for a three-night engagement despite a fall at home that forced him to postpone dates in the middle of 2021.
Those shows started off another visit that ran all the way into the next year.
The singer’s representatives announced at the beginning of April that he would be canceling all of his upcoming concerts due to unspecified health issues.
A four-meter-tall bronze sculpture dedicated to Lightfoot was unveiled in his hometown, securing his musical legacy. He would later receive a number of other local honors, including this one.
“When I learned they were working on it, I wondered, ‘Why me?’ What have I done that is perfect to the point that I ought to have the right to have a sculpture, an exceptionally creative work done?”‘ at the time, he stated.
“It’s very fitting to have a monument of this kind and to have it here at the Mariposa Folk Festival.”