Legendary Canadian country music legend Ian Tyson has passed away due to ongoing health complications. His family confirmed the news. He was 89.
Ian Tyson was born to British immigrants in Victoria and grew up in Duncan B.C. He was a rough stock rider in his late teens and early twenties and took up the guitar while recovering from a bad fall he sustained during a rodeo. He traveled to Toronto where he met Sylvia Fricker. As Ian & Sylvia, the duo became Canadian folk stars in the ’60s. The pair married in 1964 and produced more than a dozen albums and some of Canada’s most beloved songs.
“Four Strong Winds,” “Someday Soon,” “You Were On My Mind,” are songs that have been covered countless times. During the British Invasion period, Ian and Sylvia evolved to become pioneers of country-rock with their band Great Speckled Bird. Tyson hosted a national Canadian television music show from 1970 to 1975. Following that stint, he returned to the Canadian West after his marriage with Sylvia ended.
Following a three year hiatus spent cowboying in the Rockies at Pincher Creek, Tyson recorded the album Old Corrals & Sagebrush. The album was made up of cowboy songs both traditional and new. “It was a kind of musical Christmas card for my friends,” Tyson recalls of the album. “We weren’t looking for a ‘hit’ or radio play or anything like that.”
In 2006, Tyson severely damaged his voice after a tough performance at an outdoor country music festival. “I fought the sound system and lost,” Tyson said of the event. After a virus that took months to pass, Tyson’s smooth voice was left hoarse, grainy, and had lost much of its resonant bottom end.
Soon he began reworking and relearning his songs to accommodate his new voice–which enraptured his audiences. His most recent single “You Should Have Known” released in September 2017 on Stony Plain Records.
Donations in Ian’s memory can be made to The Ian Tyson Legacy Fund. The family is holding a closed service for their loved one and requests privacy at this time.