Gord Downie

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Gord Downie
Gord Downie 2001 (cropped).jpg
Downie performing in Guelph, Ontario (2001)
Background information
Birth name Gordon Edgar Downie
Born (1964-02-06) 6 February 1964 (age 53)
Amherstview, Ontario, Canada
Origin Kingston, Ontario, Canada
Genres Rock, alternative rock
Occupation(s) Musician, actor
Instruments Vocals, guitar, harmonica, drums
Years active 1983–present
Associated acts The Tragically Hip, The Country of Miracles, The Sadies
Website www.thehip.com

Gordon Edgar "Gord" Downie (born 6 February 1964) is a Canadian rock musician, writer, and occasional actor. He is the lead singer and lyricist for the Canadian rock band The Tragically Hip. He has released five solo albums: Coke Machine Glow (2001), Battle of the Nudes (2003), The Grand Bounce (2010), And the Conquering Sun with The Sadies (2014) and Secret Path (2016).

Life and career[edit]

Early life[edit]

Gordon Downie (known widely as Gord Downie) grew up in a suburb of Kingston, Ontario, where he befriended the musicians who would become The Tragically Hip while attending the downtown Kingston high school Kingston Collegiate and Vocational Institute.[2] Downie formed the Tragically Hip with Rob Baker, Johnny Fay, Davis Manning, and Gord Sinclair in 1983. Saxophone player Davis Manning left the band and guitarist Paul Langlois joined in 1986.[3] Originally, the band started off playing cover songs in bars and quickly became famous once MCA Records president, Bruce Dickinson, saw them performing at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto and offered them a record deal.[4] This much-loved Canadian band has won over many fans through the incorporation of Downie’s stories and myths about life in Canada in his songs, and his wild antics and rantings on stage.[5]

In 2001, Downie diverted from the band and started his solo career with the release of his album Coke Machine Glow. Along with this release he published his first poetry and prose book named after his solo album.[6] He went on to create a second solo album, Battle of the Nudes, in 2003. After making three more albums with the Tragically Hip, he made The Grand Bounce in 2010, which is credited to Gord Downie and the Country of Miracles.[7] His backing band on all of those albums consisted of the indie rock band The Dinner Is Ruined, along with Josh Finlayson of Skydiggers and singer-songwriter Julie Doiron, although they were credited as The Goddamned Band on Coke Machine Glow and as Country of Miracles on the later two albums. The Grand Bounce also included Death Cab for Cutie's Chris Walla in the production.[8]

Downie performing in 2013


Downie has collaborated with fellow Canadian and international artists. His most famous Canadian collaborations are with Richard Terfry (better known as Buck 65), Dallas Green of City and Colour and Alexisonfire, the Sadies and Fucked Up. These collaborations do not include the musicians who have helped Downie to create his solo albums.

Terfry collaborated with Downie on the song Whispers of the Waves off the album 20 Odd Years. Terfry composed the track and with the help of Charles Austen, his co-writer, decided Downie's vocals would be the best fit for their song.[9]

In his solo project City and Colour, Green had Downie sing on the track Sleeping Sickness off City and Colour's hit album Bring Me Your Love. The album debuted at number 11 of the Top Heatseekers chart in March 2008.

In 2014, Downie released an album with the Sadies called And the Conquering Sun. He commented on working with the Sadies, saying, "I enjoy getting together with those guys; it's a whole other universe. They're writing all the music and I'm writing all the lyrics and we're coming up with some neat stuff. You do it for the company but I'm genuinely shocked by the themes and things you touch based on the music you're singing to. That's really compelling to me." The album consists of ten songs.[10]

In other media[edit]

Downie has cameo appearances in Men with Brooms, in which the Tragically Hip play a curling team.[11] Downie also made a cameo appearance in the 2008 indie drama Nothing Really Matters, directed by Jean-Marc Piché.[12] Downie also appears in the Trailer Park Boys movie The Big Dirty, in which he and Alex Lifeson play a pair of police officers.[13] More recently, he and other members of the band can be seen in the episode of Trailer Park Boys entitled "Say Goodnight to the Bad Guys", in which he is harassed while eating a bologna sandwich at a singles dance.[12] Downie is also featured in the sitcom Corner Gas in the episode "Rock On!" in which the Tragically Hip are shown as a local band practising in the main character's garage.[14] Colin James is also featured in the same episode. Downie also appeared in Michael McGowan's 2008 film, One Week.[15]

Environmental work[edit]

Downie is heavily involved in environmental movements, especially issues concerning water rights. He is board member of Lake Ontario Waterkeeper.[16] With Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, Downie helped work on a cause to prevent a cement company from burning tires for fuel.[17] He was also a part of the Swim Drink Fish Music club, a project that unites artists and environmentalists in a music club to raise money for Waterkeeper organizations in Canada.[18]

The Great Moon Gathering[edit]

In February 2012 in Fort Albany, Ontario, Downie and the Tragically Hip played at the Great Moon Gathering, a yearly educational conference that takes place in various communities along Northern Ontario's James Bay coast. Its focus is on youth learning and combining Cree education with the contemporary world.[19] The venue was small and not typical of the band. Author Joseph Boyden, who invited them, said their motivation was to “initiate a guerrilla act of love for a people who are so thoroughly underrepresented but now, somehow, overexposed for only their shortcomings. A guerrilla act of love to show the rest of the country what strength and artistry, grace and humour the Cree possess.” In addition to the Tragically Hip's performance, Downie sang a song with a local band, Northern Revolution. The song "Goodnight Attawapiskat" from the album Now for Plan A was a result of this trip.

Cancer diagnosis[edit]

The Tragically Hip announced on their website on 24 May 2016 that Downie had been diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour.[20] Doctors at Toronto's Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre confirmed the same day that it is a glioblastoma, which has responded favourably to radiation and chemotherapy treatment but is not curable.[21]

Downie toured with the band in summer 2016 to support Man Machine Poem, the band's 14th studio album.[20] The tour's final concert was held at the Rogers K-Rock Centre in Kingston, Ontario on 20 August 2016 and was broadcast and streamed live by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation on television, radio and internet. It was viewed by an estimated 11.7 million people.[22]

In September 2016, Downie announced that he would be releasing a new solo album, Secret Path in October.[23] The album was accompanied by a graphic novel on which he collaborated with Jeff Lemire.[23] He has also performed a few live shows to support the album, with supporting musicians Kevin Drew, Charles Spearin, Dave Hamelin, Kevin Hearn and Josh Finlayson.[24]

On 22 December 2016, Downie was selected as The Canadian Press' Canadian Newsmaker of the Year and was the first entertainer ever selected for the title.[25]

On 2 February 2017, Downie joined Blue Rodeo onstage at Massey Hall for a performance of Blue Rodeo's song "Lost Together".[26]


On 13 October 2016, Downie and his brother Mike, along with the Wenjack family announced [27] the founding of the The Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund to support reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.[28] The Fund is a part of Downie's legacy and commitment to Canada's First Peoples.[28] Chanie Wenjack is a young boy who died trying to escape a residential school,[29] who is at the centre of Downie's Secret Path project. The Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund operates out of the Toronto Foundation.[30]

At the Assembly of First Nations in Gatineau, Quebec on 6 December 2016, National Chief Perry Bellegarde honoured Downie with an eagle feather, a symbol of the creator above, for his support of the indigenous peoples of Canada. Bellegarde also bestowed on Downie an honorary aboriginal name, Wicapi Omani, which is Lakota for "man who walks among the stars."[31]

Personal life[edit]

Downie was married to Laura Leigh Usher,[32] herself a cancer survivor.[33] They have four children.[34] Downie and Usher separated sometime before Downie's cancer diagnosis.[35]


Studio albums[edit]

Year Album CAN
2001 Coke Machine Glow 26
2003 Battle of the Nudes 33
2010 The Grand Bounce 8
2014 And the Conquering Sun (with the Sadies) N/A
2016 Secret Path 4



      Featured: "Sleeping Sickness" by City and Colour (2008)

Music videos[edit]

  • "The East Wind" (2010)
  • "Crater" (2014)
  • "The Stranger" (2016)



  1. ^ "Gord Downie, of The Tragically Hip, sells his east end home". Toronto Star, 9 November 2015.
  2. ^ Barclay, Michael; Ian Andrew Dylan Jack; Jason Schneider (2011). Have Not Been the Same: The CanRock Renaissance, 1985-1995. ECW Press. ISBN 9781554909681. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  3. ^ "The Tragically Hip". 2010 Canada Music Hall of Fame. Retrieved 29 March 2012. 
  4. ^ "The Tragically Hip Biography". Starpluse.com. Retrieved 30 March 2012. 
  5. ^ "Gordon Downie's Biography". Last.fm. Retrieved 30 March 2012. 
  6. ^ Wilson, MacKenzie. "Gordon Downie Biography". Yahoo! Inc. Archived from the original on 29 July 2012. Retrieved 30 March 2012. 
  7. ^ "Gord Downie – The Grand Bounce". Gord Downie. Archived from the original on 7 March 2012. Retrieved 30 March 2012. 
  8. ^ "Snob's Music: Gord Downie & the Country of Miracles: "The Grand Bounce" (album review)". Retrieved 30 March 2012. 
  9. ^ "NME Videos". Nme.com. 9 October 2015. Retrieved 14 December 2015. 
  10. ^ Khanna, Vish. "Gord Downie Sheds Light on Collaborative Album with the Sadies". Exclaim!. Retrieved 30 March 2012. 
  11. ^ "Men with Brooms (2002) – Trivia". IMDb.com, Inc. Retrieved 30 March 2012. 
  12. ^ a b "Gord Downie – Filmography by type". IMDb.com, Inc. Retrieved 30 March 2012. 
  13. ^ "Trailer Park Boys: The Movie (2006)". IMDb.com, Inc. Retrieved 30 March 2012. 
  14. ^ ""Corner Gas" Rock On! (TV episode 2005)". IMDb.com, Inc. Retrieved 30 March 2012. 
  15. ^ "Gord Downie". IMDb.com, Inc. Retrieved 30 March 2012. 
  16. ^ "Board / Stewards — Lake Ontario Waterkeeper". Waterkeeper.ca. Retrieved 14 December 2015. 
  17. ^ "Media Alert: Lafarge denied: Cement company's motion for leave to-appeal denied in alternative fuels case". Newswire. CNW. Retrieved 18 April 2015. 
  18. ^ "GreenHeroes : This Month Gord Downie, Mark Mattson and Lake Ontario Waterkeeper". Sustainability Network. Archived from the original on 22 April 2012. Retrieved 30 March 2012. 
  19. ^ Boyden, Joseph (29 February 2012). "North of the 52nd with the Tragically Hip". Maclean's. Retrieved 30 March 2012. 
  20. ^ a b "Courage, my word: Tragically Hip's Gord Downie reveals terminal brain cancer diagnosis". CBC Music. CBC. 24 May 2016. Archived from the original on 1 March 2016. Retrieved 24 May 2016. 
  21. ^ "Gord Downie underwent surgery for 'incurable' brain cancer, his doctor says". CBC News, 24 May 2016.
  22. ^ Noronha, Charmaine. "Canadian rock band The Tragically Hip holds final show". The Associated Press. Retrieved 21 August 2016. 
  23. ^ a b "Gord Downie to release solo album, graphic novel next month". CTV News, 9 September 2016.
  24. ^ "What happens next". The Globe and Mail, 5 January 2017.
  25. ^ Friend, David. "Gord Downie chosen as Canadian Press Newsmaker of the Year". Global News. Retrieved 23 December 2016. 
  26. ^ "Gord Downie is 'Lost Together' with Blue Rodeo as he joins band onstage at Toronto show". CBC News, 3 February 2017.
  27. ^ "Gord Downie on Twitter". Twitter, 13 October 2016.
  28. ^ a b "The Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund". DownieWenjack.ca, 13 October 2016.
  29. ^ "Secret Path". SecretPath.ca, 13 October 2016.
  30. ^ "Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund". Toronto Foundation, 13 October 2016.
  31. ^ "AFN honours tearful Gord Downie". CBC News, 10 December 2016.
  32. ^ ""Tragically Hip's Gord Downie has terminal cancer"". News 1130. 24 May 2016. Retrieved 26 August 2016. 
  33. ^ ""Gord Downie Wife: Singer's Interview About Wife's Cancer Will Tear You Apart"". Huffington Post. 25 May 2016. Retrieved 26 August 2016. 
  34. ^ ""Gord Downie says family life influenced new solo disc"". CTV News. 6 June 2010. Retrieved 26 August 2016. 
  35. ^ "If Secret Path 'is the last thing I do, I'm happy': What happens to Gord Downie next - The Globe and Mail". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 24 October 2016. 
  36. ^ "Future Releases on Triple A (AAA) Radio Stations". All Access Music Group. Archived from the original on 27 February 2014. 

External links[edit]