The Tragically Hip
"There may be no rock band more viscerally Canadian than The Tragically Hip," writes National Post columnist Christie Blatchford. Indeed, The Tragically Hip's love for Canada, its geography, people, and legends comes out loud and clear in the group's sold out concerts and top-selling albums. But that doesn't begin to tell the full story.
Over the course of a 16-year recording career, The Tragically Hip has racked up both a singular body of music and an impressive array of career accomplishments including 14 JUNO awards and in excess of six million records sold worldwide. More than 30 songs in their oeuvre have reached Top 10 status on Canadian radio.
Many of these songs such as Bobcaygeon, Wheat Kings, and Fifty-Mission Cap tell the stories and stir the passions of everyday Canadians.
The group of five longtime friends from Kingston, Ontario - Bobby Baker (guitar), Gordon Downie (vocals, acoustic guitar), Johnny Fay (drums), Paul Langlois (guitar, vocals), Gord Sinclair (bass, organ, vocals) - came together in 1986. Their early bar act included original songs that the group often introduced as unreleased efforts of other artists.
"The Hip" (as they're known to devotees) released their first self-titled album in 1988. Since then, the group has recorded eight more best-selling albums and garnered all of the most prestigious awards in the JUNO catalogue including Best Rock Album (twice), Best Single, Album of the Year (twice), Group of the Year (twice), Entertainer of the Year (three times), along with an impressive number of fan voted achievements.
The Tragically Hip have appeared as musical guests on Saturday Night Live, and played the Saturday main stage at the 1999 Woodstock festival. They have also won praise for being the first Canadian band to stage a touring festival. The recurring "Another Roadside Attraction" touched down in major North American centres in 1993, 1995, and 1997.
The band's remarkably loyal fans frequently travel hundreds of miles all over North America to attend one of their high-energy concerts. Such was the case in Salt Lake City during the 2002 Winter Olympics when "The Hip" thrilled audiences with two hours of classics mixed with exciting material from their 10th album.
On May 24, 2016, the band revealed that Downie had been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, and announced that, despite his condition, they would tour that summer.
They released their thirteenth studio album, Man Machine Poem, on June 17, 2016.
The final concert of the Man Machine Poem tour was held in the band's hometown of Kingston, Ontario, on August 20, 2016. The concert was attended by Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, and was aired by the CBC as a live cross-platform broadcast on CBC Television, CBC Radio One, CBC Radio 2, CBC Music and YouTube. The concert featured 30 songs and three encore sets, with the band finishing with a performance of "Ahead by a Century". 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).
On October 13, 2016, Gord Downie gave his first interview to CBC's Peter Mansbridge since his cancer diagnosis, where he reported experiencing memory loss. Downie also told Mansbridge that he was working with the Tragically Hip on new studio material.
Downie released his fifth solo album, Secret Path on October 18, 2016. It is a concept album about Chanie Wenjack, a First Nations boy who escaped from a Canadian Indian Reservation school in 1966 and died while attempting to make the 600km walk back to his home.