Humble beginnings beget a humble man. So it is with Tom Cochrane.
Born in Lynn Lake, Manitoba, the son of a bush pilot, Cochrane set the stage for his future at 11 years old when he swapped a toy train set for his first guitar. It was an acquisition that no doubt sparked a number of dreams and visions holding court onstage in front of rapt thousands; driving down the highway as his own song played on the radio. But it's a safe bet he never imagined he'd see his name etched into pavement.
"Kind of humbled and embarrassed at first," says Cochrane about his reaction to being inducted into the Walk of Fame. "Then I thought about how proud my girls Kathy, Cody and Evanne would be, and all my family, friends and supporters. It's quite an honour, hopefully they feel proud."
Cochrane has had a lot of hits, but none is as well known as "Life Is A Highway," a track that pushed his 1991 LP, Mad, Mad World, to very rare diamond status in Canada, with one million copies sold. It's a true everyman hit populist, plain-spoken, working-class rock, delivered with a voice full of grit and passion that you believed. Maybe that's because by that time Cochrane knew all about long roads. In 1991, he had already spent nearly 20 years as an artist.
He began performing folk-oriented material in the early 1900s in the Yorkville neighbourhood of Toronto also the birthing ground for the careers of Neil Young, Gordon Lightfoot and Joni Mitchell. A few years of struggle, travel, paying dues (and cab driving) followed, but a turning point came when Toronto band Red Rider took Cochrane on as lead singer/songwriter.
Whether it's radiorock kings Nickelback, Canuck road warrior Sam Roberts or even underground indie-rocker Kevin Drew of Broken Social Scene (who surprised the hipsters by seeking out Cochrane to appear on his solo single and video "Lucky Ones"), many cite him as a transformative force in Canadian music. And now that Cochrane has his own star on our Walk of Fame, this humble prairie-boy-at-heart can truly say he has left his mark.
"Hey, it's gonna be there for a long time, long after I'm gone physically from this place," Cochrane enthuses. "I once drove a cab in this town best education I ever got. Now I can drive by there and say, Look, I left a mark.'