|Birth name||Ian Dawson Tyson|
|Born||September 25, 1933|
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
|Origin||Toronto, Ontario, Canada|
|Died||December 29, 2022 (aged 89)|
Longview, Alberta, Canada
|Labels||Stony Plain, A&M|
|Formerly of||Ian & Sylvia, Great Speckled Bird|
Early life and education
Ian Dawson Tyson was born on September 25, 1933 in Victoria, British Columbia to George and Margaret Tyson. His father George was an insurance salesman and polo enthusiast who emigrated from England in 1906. Growing up in Duncan, British Columbia, he learned to ride horses on his father's farm, and eventually became a rodeo rider in his late teens and early twenties. He took up the guitar while in hospital recovering from a broken ankle sustained in a fall. Fellow Canadian country artist Wilf Carter was a musical influence. He graduated from the Vancouver School of Art in 1958.
After graduation, Tyson moved to Toronto where he began a job as a commercial artist. There he performed in local clubs and in 1959 began to sing on occasion with Sylvia Fricker. By early 1959 Tyson and Fricker were performing part-time at the Village Corner as Ian & Sylvia. The pair became a full-time musical act in 1961 and married three years later. In 1969, they formed and fronted the group The Great Speckled Bird. Residing in southern Alberta, the Tysons toured all over the world. During their years together, the pair released 13 albums of folk and country music.
From 1970 to 1975, Tyson hosted a national television program, The Ian Tyson Show, on CTV, known as Nashville North in its first season. Sylvia Tyson and the Great Speckled Bird appeared often on the series.
In 1980, Tyson became associated with Calgary music manager and producer Neil MacGonigill. Tyson decided to concentrate on country and cowboy music, resulting in the well-received 1983 album Old Corrals and Sagebrush, released on Columbia Records.
In 1989, Tyson was inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame. His next albums were cowboy music: I Outgrew the Wagon (1989), And Stood There Amazed (1991), and Eighteen Inches of Rain (1994). Tyson credited Adrian Chernowol with creating a unique sound for his platinum album "Cowboyography", a unique style that he maintained for his rest of his recording career.
In 2005, CBC Radio One listeners chose his song "Four Strong Winds" as the greatest Canadian song of all time on the series 50 Tracks: The Canadian Version. There was strong momentum for him to be nominated the Greatest Canadian, but he fell short. He has been a strong influence on many Canadian artists, including Neil Young, who recorded "Four Strong Winds" for Comes a Time (1978). Johnny Cash would also record the same song for American V: A Hundred Highways (2006). Judy Collins recorded a version of his song "Someday Soon" in 1968.
In 2006, Tyson sustained irreversible scarring to his vocal cords as a result of a concert at the Havelock Country Jamboree followed a year later by a virus contracted during a flight to Denver. This resulted in a notable loss of the remarkable quality and range he was known for; he has self-described his new sound as "gravelly". Notwithstanding, he released the album From Yellowhead to Yellowstone and Other Love Stories in 2008 to high critical praise. He was nominated for a 2009 Canadian Folk Music Awards for Solo Artist of the Year. The album includes a song about Canadian hockey broadcasting icon Don Cherry and the passing of his wife, Rose, a rare Tyson cover written by Toronto songwriter Jay Aymar.
Tyson's first marriage, to his musical partner Sylvia Fricker, ended in an amicable divorce in 1975. Their son Clay (Clayton Dawson Tyson, born 1966) was also a musical performer and has since moved to a career modifying racing bikes.
After the divorce, Tyson returned to southern Alberta to farm and train horses but also continued his musical career on a limited basis. In 1978, Neil Young recorded "Four Strong Winds", and Tyson used the royalties for a down payment on a cattle and horse ranch. He started playing regularly at Calgary's Ranchman's Club around this time.
Tyson's autobiography, The Long Trail: My Life in the West, was published in 2010. Co-written with Calgary journalist Jeremy Klaszus, the book "alternates between autobiography and a broader study of [Tyson's] relationship to the 'West' – both as a fading reality and a cultural ideal." CBC's Michael Enright said the book is like Tyson himself – "straightforward, unglazed and honest."
Ian Tyson married Twylla Dvorkin in 1986. Their daughter Adelita Rose was born c. 1987. Tyson's second marriage ended in divorce in early 2008, several years after he and Dvorkin had separated.
A book by John Einarson, Four Strong Winds: Ian & Sylvia, was published in 2012. A few years later, Ian said that Evinia Pulos (Bruce) was his "soulmate"; since she lived in Kelowna, a city in south central British Columbia, he said that he was unable to see her often. "We’ve been lovers for 55 years. ... How many people can say that?" Tyson said. In 2018, Tyson made concert appearances in British Columbia and Alberta. His website indicated that in 2019, he was to make two concert appearances, one in Calgary and the other in Bragg Creek, Alberta.
Tyson died at his ranch near Longview, Alberta, on December 29, 2022, at the age of 89. According to his manager Paul Mascioli, this followed several health issues, including a heart attack and open heart surgery in 2015.
Awards and recognition
Tyson became a Member of the Order of Canada in October 1994 and was inducted into the Alberta Order of Excellence in 2006. In 2003, Tyson received a Governor General's Performing Arts Award.
Ian Tyson was inducted into the Mariposa Hall of Fame, with Sylvia, in 2006 
An announcement in July 2019 stated that Ian Tyson and Sylvia Tyson would be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, individually, not as a duo. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation article stated that "the duo's 1964's hit, 'Four Strong Winds', has been deemed one of the most influential songs in Canadian history". The report also referenced the song "You Were on My Mind", written by Sylvia Tyson, as well as her four albums (1975–1980).
A tribute CD to Ian Tyson, The Gift, was released in 2007 on Stony Plain Records featuring "Someday Soon" done by Doug Andrew with Buddy Cage on pedal steel guitar (Buddy played in Great Speckled Bird), "Four Strong Winds" recorded by Blue Rodeo, plus another 13 of Tyson's best known songs done by major folk and country artists. The album is titled after a song of Tyson's, which itself is a tribute to Charles Marion Russell.
|1978||One Jump Ahead of the Devil||—||—|
|1983||Old Corrals and Sagebrush||—||—|
|1989||I Outgrew the Wagon||12||74||
|1991||And Stood There Amazed||16||—|
|1994||Eighteen Inches of Rain||9||—|
|1996||All the Good 'Uns||21||—||
|2002||Live at Longview||—||—|
|2005||Songs from the Gravel Road||—||—|
|2008||Yellowhead to Yellowstone and Other Love Stories||—||—|
|2011||Songs from the Stone House||—||—|
|2013||All the Good 'Uns Vol. 2||—||—|
|"—" denotes releases that did not chart|
|1973||"Love Can Bless the Soul of Anyone"||—||61||46||Ol' Eon|
|1974||"If She Just Helps Me"||31||—||—|
|"Great Canadian Tour"||—||—||13|
|"She's My Greatest Blessing"||—||—||—|
|"Some Kind of Fool"||—||—||—|
|1975||"Goodness of Shirley"||34||—||—||Goldenrod soundtrack|
|1979||"Half a Mile of Hell"||26||—||—||One Jump Ahead of the Devil|
|1980||"The Moondancer"||19||—||—||Non-album single|
|1983||"Alberta's Child"||—||—||—||Old Corrals and Sagebrush|
|1984||"Oklahoma Hills"||40||—||—||Ian Tyson|
|1988||"Fifty Years Ago"||8||—||—|
|1989||"Irving Berlin (Is 100 Yrs Old Today)"||24||—||—||I Outgrew the Wagon|
|"Cowboys Don't Cry"||25||—||—|
|"Since the Rain"||17||—||—|
|"I Outgrew the Wagon"||33||—||—|
|1991||"Springtime in Alberta"||9||—||—||And Stood There Amazed|
|1992||"Lights of Laramie"||9||—||—|
|"You're Not Alone Anymore"||47||—||—|
|1993||"Jaquima to Freno"||30||—||—|
|1994||"Alcohol in the Bloodstream"||11||—||—||Eighteen Inches of Rain|
|"Eighteen Inches of Rain"||27||—||—|
|"Heartaches Are Stealin'"||39||—||—|
|1996||"Barrel Racing Angel"||35||—||—||All the Good 'uns|
|1997||"The Wonder of It All"||—||—||—|
|1999||"Brahmas and Mustangs"||—||—||—||Lost Herd|
|2005||"Land of Shining Mountains"||—||—||—||Songs from the Gravel Road|
|"This Is My Sky"||—||—||—|
|2006||"Always Saying Goodbye"||—||—||—|
|"—" denotes releases that did not chart|
This sect needs additional citations for verification. (January 2022)
|1971–1974||Ian Tyson Show||CTV network|||
|2010||Songs from the Gravel Road||Bravo! Network documentary|
|2010||Mano a Mano||DVD with Tom Russell|
|2010||This Is My Sky||DVD set|
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- "Ian's 1st Solo Album Marks Return To Country Roots", Billboard, November 23, 1974, p.66
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- "They're partners in life as well as in music, which must have its difficult moments like the prospect of having to sing with someone you were maybe not speaking to. But they certainly have made that work, what with that thing rolling around on the rug, young Clayton Dawson, herein and hereafter referred to as 'Mr. Spoons.'" From the jacket notes (by John Court) to Ian and Sylvia's LP "Lovin' Sound", MGM 4388, 1967. Quoted in Mudcat Forum by Dale Rose, April 16, 1999; accessed May 8, 2011.
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