Gordon Lightfoot, who passed away at the age of 84, has been remembered with tributes. In the 1960s and 1970s, the Canadian musician rose to prominence with songs such as Early Morning Rain and If You Could Read My Mind.
His compositions were covered by Elvis Presley, Barbra Streisand, and Johnny Cash, among others.
Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau referred to him as one of the finest singer-songwriters in the country.
“Gordon Lightfoot captured our country’s spirit in his music – and in doing so, he helped shape Canada’s soundscape,” he said on Twitter.
“May his music continue to inspire future generations, and may his legacy live on forever.”
Monday, according to a statement posted on Lightfoot’s official Facebook page, he died of natural causes at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto.
Lightfoot was born in Ontario and won a talent competition in high school as a member of a barbershop quartet.
Before returning to Canada, he studied music composition in the United States at the age of 18.
In 1962, he made his radio debut with (Remember Me) I’m the One, which led to a number of hit compositions and musical collaborations.
In 1965, Marty Robbins’ rendition of Ribbon of Darkness topped the US country charts, while Peter, Paul, and Mary placed For Lovin’ Me in the top 30.
If You Could Read My Mind reached number five on the US Billboard chart in 1971, marking Lightfoot’s first appearance on the chart.
It was his biggest success in the United Kingdom, peaking at number 30 that same year.
In the early 2000s, however, it reached a new audience when it was featured on the soundtrack for the Channel 4 comedy Trigger Happy TV.
Dom Joly, the comedian behind the hidden camera program, referred to him as a “legend” in a tweet.
“Rest in peace, Gordon Lightfoot. If you could read my mind was the most popular track from any of the Trigger Happy Soundtracks, he added.
Ben Stiller, meanwhile, remarked,
“What a visionary Gordon Lightfoot was. His music played such an important role in my existence. Rest in serenity. We are grateful for the motivation he gave us all.”
In his tribute, Stephen King mentioned Sundown, one of Lightfoot’s most popular songs.
“He was an exceptional songwriter and performer. “Sundown, if I catch you creeping up my stairs, you’d better be careful,” he tweeted.
More than 200 of Gordon Lightfoot’s compositions have been covered by artists such as Harry Belafonte, Bob Dylan, and The Grateful Dead.
Dylan once remarked,
“I cannot think of a Gordon Lightfoot song that I dislike. Every time I hear one of his songs, I wish it would never end.”
The Canadian Music Hall of Fame inducted Gordon Lightfoot in 1986, noting that he was responsible for “dozens of classic, enduring, and chart-topping compositions.”
“Few performers have so eloquently captured the adventure, hardship, tragedy, and elation of nation building,” its website states.
Lightfoot was nominated for four Grammys, one of which was for The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, a song about the death of 29 sailors when a cargo ship sunk in Lake Superior.
In the 1970s, he dominated the Juno Awards in Canada, earning 12 awards during the decade.
And in 2003, he was awarded the country’s highest civilian honor, the Companion of the Order of Canada.
However, Lightfoot was more modest about his talents, telling Canada’s The Globe and Mail,
“Sometimes I wonder why I’m being called an icon because I don’t really think of myself that way.”
The musician remained an active touring artist well into his eighties, postponing his North American tour only last month.
His wife Kim Hasse, six children, and several grandchildren survive him.
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