The Tragically Hip

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The Tragically Hip
TragicallyGord cc attribution ScottAlexander.jpg
The Tragically Hip play during a stop at the Orpheum in Vancouver on 22 June 2009 during their tour supporting the album We are the Same
Background information
Origin Kingston, Ontario, Canada
Years active 1984–present
Members Gord Downie
Rob Baker
Gord Sinclair
Johnny Fay
Paul Langlois
Past members Davis Manning

The Tragically Hip, often referred to simply as the Hip, are a Canadian rock band from Kingston, Ontario, consisting of lead singer Gord Downie, guitarist Paul Langlois, guitarist Rob Baker (known as Bobby Baker until 1994), bassist Gord Sinclair, and drummer Johnny Fay. They have released 14 studio albums, two live albums, one EP, and 54 singles. Nine of their albums have reached No. 1 on the Canadian charts. They have received numerous Canadian music awards, including 16 Juno Awards.

Following Downie's diagnosis with terminal brain cancer in 2016, the band undertook a tour of Canada in support of their thirteenth album Man Machine Poem.[1] Although some media have reported this as the band's final concert tour,[2] the band themselves have not declared it as such, stating only that future recording and performing activity will depend on Downie's health. The Man Machine Poem Tour's final concert, held at the Rogers K-Rock Centre in Kingston on August 20, 2016, was broadcast globally by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as a cross-platform television, radio and internet streaming special.[2]


Early history (1984–1991)[edit]

The Tragically Hip formed in 1984 in Kingston, Ontario. Gord Sinclair and Rob Baker were students at Kingston Collegiate and had performed together at the KCVI Variety Show as the Rodents. Baker and Sinclair joined with Downie and Fay in 1984 and began playing gigs around Kingston with some memorable stints at a Queen's University pub called Alfie's. Guitarist Paul Langlois joined in 1986; saxophonist Davis Manning left that same year. They took their name from a skit in the Michael Nesmith movie Elephant Parts.[3]

By the mid-1980s they performed in small music venues across Ontario until being seen by then-MCA President Bruce Dickinson at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto.[4] They were then signed to a long-term record deal with MCA, and recorded the self-titled EP The Tragically Hip. The album produced two singles, "Small Town Bring-Down" and "Highway Girl".

They followed up with 1989's Up to Here. This album produced four singles, "Blow at High Dough", "New Orleans Is Sinking", "Boots or Hearts", and "38 Years Old". All four of these songs found extensive rotation on modern rock radio play lists in Canada. Road Apples followed in 1991, producing three singles ("Little Bones", "Twist My Arm" and "Three Pistols") and reaching No. 1 on Canadian record charts. During the Road Apples tour, Downie became recognized for ranting and telling fictional stories during songs such as "Highway Girl" and "New Orleans is Sinking".

The sound on these first two full-length albums is sometimes characterized as "blues-tinged," although there are definite acoustic punctuations throughout both discs. While the band failed to achieve significant international success with these first two albums, their sales and dominance of modern rock radio in Canada gave them license to subsequently explore their sound.


Fully Completely[edit]

The Hip released another album, Fully Completely in 1992, which produced the singles "Locked in the Trunk of a Car", "Courage" and "At the Hundredth Meridian" and three others. The sound on this album displayed less of a blues influence than previous albums. The Hip created and headlined the first Another Roadside Attraction tour at this time, both to act as a vehicle for their touring, and to promote other Canadian acts (as well as non-Canadians Ziggy Marley and Pere Ubu).

Many songs from Day For Night were first performed prior to their release during the 1993 Another Roadside Attraction Tour. "Nautical Disaster" was played frequently in the middle of "New Orleans is Sinking", an early version of "Thugs" was tested, and Downie sang lyrics from many other Day For Night songs, such as "Grace, Too", "Scared" and "Emergency", during this tour.

Day for Night and Trouble at the Henhouse to Live Between Us[edit]

Day for Night was then released in 1994,[5] producing six singles, including "Nautical Disaster" and "Grace, Too". Trouble at the Henhouse followed in 1996, producing five singles, including "Ahead by a Century" and "Butts Wigglin", which would also appear on the soundtrack to the Kids in the Hall movie Brain Candy. Live Between Us, was recorded on the subsequent tour at Cobo Arena in Detroit, Michigan

The band developed a unique sound and ethos, leaving behind its earlier blues influence. Downie's vocal style changed while the band experimented with song structures and chord progressions. Songs explored the themes of Canadian geography and history, water and land, all motifs that became heavily associated with the Hip. While Fully Completely began an exploration of deeper themes, many critics consider Day for Night to be the Hip's artistry most fully realized.

Enigmatic sound[edit]

The sound here is typically called "enigmatic" and "dark", while critic MacKenzie Wilson praises "the poignancy of Downie's minimalism."[6] It was on the follow-up tour for this album that the band made its first and only appearance on Saturday Night Live, thanks in large part to the finagling of fellow Canadian and Kingston-area resident Dan Aykroyd.

In July 1996, the Hip headlined Edenfest. The three-day concert took place at Mosport Park, in Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada, just a few months after the LP Trouble At the Henhouse was released. The concert sold over 70,000 tickets total and was attended by an estimated 20,000 additional people who gained access to the concert site after the outside security broke down.


In 1998, the band released their seventh full-length album, Phantom Power,[7] which produced five singles. It won the 1999 Juno Awards for Best Rock Album and Best Album Design. A single from the album, "Bobcaygeon", won the Juno Award for Single of the Year in 2000. The album has been certified platinum three times over in Canada.[8]

In February 1999, the Hip played the very first concert at the brand new Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario.

2000 saw the release of Music @ Work. It won the 2001 Juno Award for Best Rock Album. The album featured back-up vocals from Julie Doiron on a number of tracks, and reached No. 1 on the Canadian Billboard Charts.

In 2002, In Violet Light, recorded by Hugh Padgham and Terry Manning at Compass Point Studios in the Bahamas was released, along with three singles from the album. It became certified platinum in Canada.[8] Later that year, the Hip made a cameo appearance in the Paul Gross film Men with Brooms, playing a curling team from their hometown of Kingston. Two of their songs, "Poets" and "Throwing Off Glass", were also featured on the film's soundtrack.

On October 10, 2002, the Tragically Hip performed two songs, "It's a Good Life If You Don't Weaken" and "Poets", as part of a command performance for Queen Elizabeth II. In 2003, the band recorded a cover of "Black Day in July", a song about the 1967 12th Street Riot in Detroit, on Beautiful: A Tribute to Gordon Lightfoot.


Left to right: Gord Downie, Gord Sinclair and Rob Baker performing in Aspen, Colorado, 2007

In Between Evolution was released in 2004 in the No. 1 position in Canada. It has since sold over 100,000 copies.

At the 92nd Grey Cup held November 21, 2004, the band provided the halftime entertainment in front of a packed house at Frank Clair Stadium in Ottawa.[9]

In 2004, in episode 15 ("Rock On"), season 2 of Canadian comedy TV series Corner Gas, the Tragically Hip gave a cameo appearance as an unnamed local band rehearsing in Brent's garage. They play a rough version of the song It Can't Be Nashville Every Night from their In Between Evolution album until interrupted and asked to leave by Brent, Wanda, and Hank. As they disappointedly go, Wanda demands that Gord Sinclair and Rob Baker leave behind their amplifiers.[10]

In October 2005, several radio stations temporarily stopped playing "New Orleans Is Sinking", out of sensitivity to the victims of Hurricane Katrina, which had devastated the city in early September of that year.[11][12][13] However it received considerable pirate radio and relief site play and gained some notoriety and praise in New Orleans due to its attitudinal proximity to the city's culture.

On November 1, 2005, the Hip released a double CD, double DVD box set, Hipeponymous, including all of their singles and music videos to date, a backstage documentary called "Macroscopic", an animated Hip-scored short film entitled "The Right Whale", two brand new songs ("No Threat" and "The New Maybe"), a full-length concert from November 2004 That Night in Toronto, and a 2-CD greatest hits collection Yer Favourites (selected on-line by 150,000 fans). On November 8, 2005, Yer Favourites and That Night In Toronto were released individually.

In 2006 another studio album, entitled World Container, was released, being notably produced by Bob Rock. It produced four singles, and reached the No. 1 spot on the Canadian rock music charts. The band toured concert dates in major Canadian cities, and then as an opening act for the Who on several US dates. A tour of Eastern Canada, Europe, and select cities in the United States occurred late in the year.

On February 23, 2008, the Hip returned to their hometown of Kingston, Ontario, where they were the first live act to perform at the new K-Rock Centre.


In 2009, the band again worked with producer Bob Rock, and We Are the Same was released in North America on April 7, 2009. It produced three singles. To promote We Are the Same the band invited The Hour's George Stroumboulopoulos for a live interview at The Bath House Recording Studio in Bath, Ontario (where most of the album was recorded), and they played seven new songs as well as unique versions of five other songs. The interview and performance were broadcast live in more than eighty theatres across Canada.

On January 22, 2010, the band performed "Fiddler's Green" at the "Canada for Haiti" telethon to aid earthquake victims in that country. This was broadcast nationally on all three of Canada's main networks (CBC, Global and CTV).

Performing "The Wherewithal" at the House of Blues in Boston, Massachusetts, 2015.

On May 12, 2012, a 90-second clip of the song "At Transformation", the first single from the band's new album, premiered during Hockey Night in Canada. The full song premiered on Toronto radio station CFNY-FM (102.1 The Edge) on May 16. The song was released to radio stations on May 17 and was officially released on iTunes on May 18. Band member Johnny Fay revealed that the title for the album is Now for Plan A. The second single, "Streets Ahead," was released on August 24. The album (their 12th studio album), produced by Gavin Brown, was released on October 2, 2012. The band played several live "Nashville" style shows that week at the Supermarket bar in Kensington market to promote the release of this record. On the evening of October 2 they played a full set to a packed bar with a live webcast through tdsmultimedia to livestream, and an audio simulcast on Sirius XM.

The Tragically Hip re-entered their studio in July 2014 to begin work on a new album. The following October, Fully Completely was re-released as a remastered deluxe edition, including two bonus tracks, a vinyl edition and a recording of a live show.[14] To celebrate and promote the re-release, the band toured Canada and the United States from January to October 2015.[15]

2016: Downie's diagnosis and summer tour[edit]

On May 24, 2016, the band announced that Downie had been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.[16] The band also announced that, despite his condition, they would tour that summer.[1]

The Hip's thirteenth album, Man Machine Poem, was released on June 17, 2016.[17]

The final concert of the Man Machine Poem tour[2] was held at the Rogers K-Rock Centre in the band's hometown of Kingston on August 20, 2016. The concert was attended by Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau.[18] The concert was aired by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as a live cross-platform broadcast on CBC Television, CBC Radio One, CBC Radio 2, CBC Music and YouTube.[19] The concert featured 30 songs and three encore sets, with the band finishing with a performance of "Ahead by a Century".[2] The CBC's broadcast and live streaming of the concert, uninterrupted by advertisements, was watched by 11.7 million people (roughly one-third of the Canadian population).[20]

On October 13, 2016, Downie gave an interview, his first since his cancer diagnosis, to CBC's Peter Mansbridge, in which he reported experiencing memory loss.[21] Downie also told Mansbridge that he was working with the Tragically Hip on new studio material,[21] and that the band have up to four albums worth of unreleased material in the vaults.[21]

Downie released his fifth solo album, Secret Path on October 18, 2016. The album is a concept album about Chanie Wenjack, a First Nations boy who escaped from a Canadian Indian residential school in 1966 and died while attempting to make the 600 km walk back to his home.[21][22]

On December 22, 2016, Downie was selected as The Canadian Press' Canadian Newsmaker of the Year and was the first entertainer ever selected for the title.[23]

On June 15, 2017, all five members of The Tragically Hip were announced as recipients of the Order of Canada by Governor General of Canada David Johnston.[24] Downie received his honour on June 19, and the other four members of the band will be invested at a later date.[24]

The band and the tour are the subjects of Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier's documentary film Long Time Running, which is slated to premiere at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival.[25]

Band members[edit]

Current members

Past members

Awards and honours[edit]

SOCAN Awards

  • 1997: National Achievement Award

Canada's Walk of Fame:

The Tragically Hip's star on Canada's Walk of Fame
  • 2002: Inducted in Toronto, Ontario

Canadian Music Hall of Fame:

  • 2005: Inducted at the Juno Awards in Winnipeg, Manitoba

Royal Conservatory of Music:

  • 2006: Presented with an honorary fellowship May 24 at the Windsor Arms Hotel in Toronto, Ontario

Governor General's Performing Arts Awards:

  • 2008: Presented the National Arts Centre Award in Ottawa, Ontario

Juno Awards

  • 1990: Most Promising Group of the Year
  • 1991: Canadian Entertainer of the Year
  • 1993: Canadian Entertainer of the Year
  • 1995: Entertainer of the Year
  • 1995: Group of the Year
  • 1997: Group of the Year
  • 1997: Album of the Year (Trouble at the Henhouse),
  • 1997: North Star Rock Album of the Year (Trouble at the Henhouse)
  • 1999: Best Rock Album (Phantom Power)
  • 1999: Best Album Design (Phantom Power)
  • 2000: Best Single ("Bobcaygeon")
  • 2001: Best Rock Album (Music at Work)
  • 2006: CD/DVD Artwork Design of the Year (Hipeponymous)
  • 2006: Music DVD of the Year (Hipeponymous)
  • 2017: Rock Album of the Year (Man Machine Poem)
  • 2017: Group of the Year

Order of Canada

  • 2017: Appointed to the Order of Canada[24]


  • In 2012, the city of Kingston Ontario renamed a prominent portion of Barrack Street, in front of the K-Rock Centre, to "The Tragically Hip Way".[26]
  • In 2013, the Tragically Hip were one of four bands — alongside Rush, the Guess Who and Beau Dommage — honoured by Canada Post in a series of postage stamps.[27]
  • On January 1, 2017, CBC Radio 2's The Strombo Show aired a special episode titled The Hip 30, which consisted of Canadian musicians performing live covers of the band's songs and sharing their thoughts on the band's impact on Canadian culture.[28] Participating artists included Blue Rodeo, Sarah Harmer, Barenaked Ladies, Donovan Woods and Rheostatics.[28] The episode was already planned as a tribute to the band's 30th anniversary before Downie's cancer diagnosis was announced; several times during the show, host George Stroumboulopoulos reaffirmed that "this is not a eulogy; this is a celebration".
  • On January 28, 2017, the Kingston Frontenacs of the Ontario Hockey League played against the Mississauga Steelheads in a special theme night game, in which the Frontenacs wore specially designed Tragically Hip jerseys.[29] The band participated in the pregame show, in which the band members were presented with their own jerseys.[29]
  • On February 2, 2017, the City of Kingston unveiled a commemorative stone in Springer Market Square with Rob Baker and Paul Langlois, recognizing the last concert of the Man Machine Poem tour. Lyrics "Everybody was in it from miles around..." from Blow at High Dough were selected in an online poll with over 11,000 votes cast.[30]


Studio albums[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Fraser, Laura. "Gord Downie's 'incurable' brain cancer won't keep him from singing, his doctor says". CBC. Retrieved 24 May 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c d Noronha, Charmaine. "Canadian rock band The Tragically Hip holds final show". The Associated Press. Retrieved 21 August 2016. 
  3. ^ "Early Days". Retrieved 2011-12-16. 
  4. ^ "CANOE - JAM! Music - Pop Encyclopedia - Tragically Hip". 2005-08-11. Retrieved 2012-10-03. 
  5. ^ Larry LeBlanc (24 December 1994). A Breakthrough Year for Canadian Acts. Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. pp. 53–. ISSN 0006-2510. 
  6. ^ "Day for Night - The Tragically Hip | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 2017-03-30. 
  7. ^ Bettsy Powell (16 January 1999). There's no place like home. Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. pp. and 58. ISSN 0006-2510. 
  8. ^ a b "Canadian Recording Industry Association" (Requires running a searches for Artist). 2010. Retrieved 2010-05-03. 
  9. ^ "Tragically Hip To Rock Grey Cup Half-Time Show". 2004-10-23. Retrieved 2012-10-03. 
  10. ^ "Tragically Hip cameo on Corner Gas". YouTube Video. 
  11. ^ MacDougall, David (2005-08-31). "Ottawa Radio Stations Pull Hip Song After Hurricane Tragedy". Chart. Retrieved 2009-08-09. 
  12. ^ [1] Archived March 12, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  13. ^ "Tragically Hip: Fun Music Information Facts, Trivia, Lyrics". Retrieved 2012-10-03. 
  14. ^ (18 November 2014). "Remastered Fully Completely Album Packages Available Today". Retrieved 25 January 2015. 
  15. ^ (10 January 2015). "Upcoming Shows". Retrieved 25 January 2015. 
  16. ^ Fraser, Laura. "Gord Downie, Tragically Hip singer, has terminal cancer". CBC. Retrieved 24 May 2016. 
  17. ^ Universal Music Canada (8 April 2016). "The Tragically Hip Release Man Machine Poem June 17". Retrieved 8 April 2016. 
  18. ^ Yoo, Noah. "Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Pays Tribute to the Tragically Hip: Watch | Pitchfork". Retrieved 21 August 2016. 
  19. ^ "Tragically Hip's final concert to be broadcast live on CBC". CBC News, June 17, 2016.
  20. ^ "Millions watch Tragically Hip live on CBC". Retrieved 22 August 2016. 
  21. ^ a b c d Cowie, Del (2016-10-14). "5 things we learned from Gord Downie's interview with Peter Mansbridge". CBC Music. Retrieved 2016-11-22. 
  22. ^ Nelson, Brad. "Gord Downie: Secret Path Album Review | Pitchfork". Retrieved 23 December 2016. 
  23. ^ Friend, David. "Gord Downie chosen as Canadian Press Newsmaker of the Year". Global News. Retrieved 23 December 2016. 
  24. ^ a b c "Hip's Gord Downie, activist Sylvia Maracle to be honoured with Indigenous leaders Monday". CBC News. Retrieved 2017-06-15. 
  25. ^ "The Tragically Hip to debut tour doc, Long Time Running, at the Toronto International Film Festival". Q, Juyl 25, 2017.
  26. ^ "Tragically Hip get street name in Kingston". CBC News, February 22, 2012.
  27. ^ "Canada Post unveils stamps dedicated to legendary Canadian rock bands". CTV News, July 19, 2013.
  28. ^ a b "George Stroumboulopoulos’s love letter to the Tragically Hip". The Globe and Mail, December 29, 2016.
  29. ^ a b "The Tragically Hip sell out arena again". Peterborough Examiner, January 25, 2017.
  30. ^ "Historic Hip concert officially set in stone". Retrieved 2017-02-08. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Bryan Adams
Grey Cup Halftime Show
Succeeded by
The Black Eyed Peas