Saturday, December 31, 2022

Remembering Music Legend Ian Tyson

Sadly, Canadian music legend Ian Tyson passed away on December 29, 2022. He had many unforgettable hits as a solo artists as well as with his now ex-wife Sylvia Tyson. Ian was also currently signed to Waterdown's Stony Plain Records.

From the news release (edited):

Canadian Music Legend Ian Tyson Has Died at 89

The family of the late Canadian country legend Ian Tyson, has confirmed the singer-songwriter died from on-going health complications on December 29th, 2022 at his ranch in southern Alberta, Canada at age 89.

Tyson was inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame in 1989, and was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, with his former wife and singing partner, Sylvia, in 1992. Tyson became a Member of the Order of Canada in 1994 and in 2003, he received a Governor General's Performing Arts Award, and inducted into the Alberta Order of Excellence in 2006.  

Tyson was born to British immigrants in Victoria, and grew up in Duncan B.C. A rough stock rider in his late teens and early twenties, he took up the guitar while recovering from an injury he sustained in a bad fall in the rodeo.

He upped stakes from Vancouver Island and hitchhiked to Toronto, where he met a young singer from small-town Ontario called Sylvia Fricker. As Ian & Sylvia, they were the Canadian stars of the early ’60s folk boom.

Married in 1964, the pair made almost a dozen albums — and wrote some of Canada’s best-loved songs, including Ian’s “Four Strong Winds” and “Someday Soon,” and Sylvia’s “You Were on My Mind”.

After hosting a national Canadian television music show from 1970 to 1975, Tyson realized his dream of returning to the Canadian West. The music and marriage of Ian and Sylvia had ended. 

Life has not been without its difficulties, however. In 2006, he seriously damaged his voice after a particularly tough performance at an outdoor country music festival.

“I fought the sound system and I lost,” he said afterwards. With a virus that took months to pass, his smooth voice was now hoarse, grainy, and had lost much of its resonant bottom end. After briefly entertaining thoughts that he would never sing again, he began relearning and reworking his songs to accommodate his “new voice.” To his surprise, audiences now paid rapt attention as he half-spoke, half-sung familiar words, which seemed to reveal new depths for his listeners.

Tyson released his most recent single “You Should Have Known” in September 2017 on Stony Plain Records, the label that Tyson’s released fifteen albums with since the ‘80s. The song unapologetically celebrated the hard living, hard drinking, hard loving cowboy life.

Donations in Ian’s memory can be made to The Ian Tyson Legacy Fund - https://www.westernfolklife.org/donate

Social Media Reaction

Bill Dillon (guitarist)

Saw Ian and Sylvia live at a school concert in Collingwood, late 60s,I just happened to be in the area 

I did a brief stint with Sylvia in the mid 70s, but that's another story.

But all thru my Yorkville teens they were high on the list of Canadian success stories 

Thru their many TV appearances then finally their own show, whenever my folks would be watching it I did too .

But I was soo focused on Ian's right hand, his wrist, anytime they were performing, I remember remarking to my dad, wow look at the way he does that, supple, smooth, loose wrist, the way he strummed and the easy feel, I was deeply inspired to make that a learning curve for myself, if I could.

Then one day while traveling across Canada with the Hawk, we wound up visiting Ian somewhere out west, I was beside myself in hopes I could tell him, and it came to be, I shook his hand as firmly as I could looking into his eyes and told him, I know everybody knows and loves you for your song writing but you're probably the best rhythm player I'd ever known, I've studied you a lot and thanked him for his huge influence upon my learning guitar, I said you and John Lennon are it for me. 

I'll always remember that joy in meeting him and the opportunity to tell him in person. 

Mostly though, it's the surprise on his face, that kinda "what??" smile on his face and especially in his eyes, when he said well thank you so much son.

Rest In Peace Ian Tyson

Richard Flohil (Publicist)

The death of Ian Tyson, while not unexpected, hit hard. 

In the decades I did publicity for Stony Plain, the label which rejuvenated his career, I suppose I was a gatekeeper — and I turned down lots of media requests, without even consulting his manager, or Ian himself. No, he would not do a two minute interview between the news and the sports on Radio Country Crap Lethbridge — he'd done more interviews than you could count, from the very early 60s until a couple of years ago. 

Yes, Ian was one of the grumpiest people I've ever met and he didn't suffer fools for more than 60 seconds (although in more than 15 years he and I never had an argument). I defended him often — underneath his crusty exterior lurked a songwriter of enormous warmth and sensitivity; if you had been offended by his attitude, just listen to his songs. 

From his early folk days to his cowboy stories of a disappearing lifestyle, Ian Tyson was one of the best songwriters this country ever had. Safe home, old friend. 

Here's a cover from Hamilton artists Matthew and Jill Barber

Links: Matthew Barber and Jill BarberMore Jill Barber MusicMore Matthew Barber StoriesVideo above courtesy of Jill Barber

Here's a tune from the man himself.

Links: Ian Tyson, More Ian Tyson StoriesVideo above courtesy of Ian Tyson - Topic


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