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Gord Downie, Tragically Hip Frontman, Dies at 53

Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie, the singer of one of Canada’s most popular bands, died Tuesday night after a long battle with cancer, according to a statement on the band’s website. He was 53.

The singer suffered from glioblastoma, an incurable form of brain cancer, which was discovered after he underwent a seizure in December of 2015. He died surrounded by his children and family, according to the statement.

“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,” the statement said.

The singer and the band put on a brave face throughout his illness, which was announced in May of last year concurrent with an announcement that the group’s surviving members — Paul Langlois, Rob Baker, Gord Sinclair and Johnny Fay — would undertake a final summer tour “for Gord, and for all of us.” The last concert of the tour was broadcast nationally across Canada on CBC.

While the group did not make a significant impact in most of the rest of the world, in Canada the Tragically Hip were a national institution, a source of pride second probably only to Rush in terms of familiarity and affection, but unlike that group, the Hip wrote about their home country; a rough analogy might be Bruce Springsteen to New Jersey or Billy Joel to Long Island. The extent of the almost patriotic fervor with which the band is revered in Canada is reflected in the fact that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — a longtime fan of the band — gave a tearful tribute to Downie that aired on Canadian television Wednesday morning.

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