Gord Downie, Frontman of The Tragically Hip, Dies at 53 After Battle With Brain Cancer

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Gord Downie in 2011

"Gord knew this day was coming — his response was to spend this precious time as he always had — making music, making memories and expressing deep gratitude to his family and friends for a life well lived, often sealing it with a kiss...on the lips."

Gord Downie, frontman of legendary rock band The Tragically Hip, died at the age of 53 on Tuesday night. He was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer just over a year ago in May 2016.

The band released a heartfelt statement early Wednesday morning confirming Gord's passing, "with his beloved children and family close by."

"Gord knew this day was coming — his response was to spend this precious time as he always had — making music, making memories and expressing deep gratitude to his family and friends for a life well lived, often sealing it with a kiss...on the lips." Read the entire statement below.

Last year, The Tragically Hip embarked on a bittersweet farewell tour with Gord's health in mind, with 15 dates across their native Canada to say goodbye to fans. The singer referenced the outpouring of love from fans while on stage, as he called out, "Thank you, people, for keeping me pushing and keeping me pushing."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attended the group's final show in Kingston, and referred to the group as "an essential part of what we are and who we are as a country.” Trudeau also tweeted, "On behalf of Canadians, I thank Gord Downie and the Hip for their decades of service to Canadian music. Forever in our hearts and playlists."

"I join the rest of Canada in mourning the loss of a great Canadian cultural voice," actor Mike Myers added in a statement. "Gord Downie was the embodiment of the humanity that we all aspire to as Canadians."

In April, the band, which consistently filled arenas, earned the Legends of Live Award at Canada's Live Music Awards. 

Gord's glioblastoma diagnosis, the most aggressive form of cancerous brain tumor, was not apparent in his energetic performance during the 2016 tour. The frontman broke away from the somber reasoning behind the concert series to shout out to Trudeau in the audience, calling on him to take action on behalf of Canada's indigenous community. 

The singer's passion regarding the resolution of problems incited by Canada's long history with residential schools was the spark behind his solo project Secret Path, which was shortlisted for the Polaris prize in 2017. 

A film about the band's last concert, entitled Long Time Running, is set to begin streaming Nov. 26. The documentary will give fans a view of the road to the final concert, as well as interviews with Gord, his family, and the Tragically Hip crew. 

 

This story first appeared on billboard.com.

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