Gordon Lightfoot Hitting The Road At 77


Submitted by Don Graham

It’s hard to remember a time in Canada when singer/songwriter Gordon Lightfoot wasn’t an integral part of the fabric of Canadian music. He has said that one of his early influences was American songsmith and storyteller Stephen Foster and Lightfoot may well be remembered by future generations of Canadians as our Stephen Foster. Most Canadian songwriters will tell you of some sort of influence and imprint left on them by the Orillia native.

And now having just turned 77 his light is still shining bright and the demand for tickets to see his upcoming shows remains high. “I almost died a couple of times, once for real, so I look at my time now as borrowed time, in regards to years.” He of course is referring to 2002 when he underwent surgery for a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm, and was in serious condition in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Lightfoot spent six-weeks in a coma and he underwent four surgical operations. He had just had written 30 new songs for his next studio album and had recorded voice and guitar demos of some of them. Before the second concert of a two-night stand in his hometown of Orillia, he suffered severe stomach pain and was airlifted to McMaster Medical Centre in Hamilton, Ontario. Early Gordon LightfootEarly Gordon LightfootAll of his remaining 2002 concert dates were canceled and it was more than three months before he was released to continue his recovery at home. In 2003 Lightfoot underwent follow-up surgery to of his abdominal condition, signing a new recording contract with Linus Entertainment and soon began rehearsing with his band for the first time since his illness. Also in 2003, Borealis Records, a related label to Linus Entertainment, released Beautiful: A Tribute to Gordon Lightfoot, featuring various artists, including The Cowboy Junkies, Bruce CockburnJesse Winchester, Maria Muldaur, and The Tragically Hip singing Lightfoot's songs.

The reference to almost dying “once for real” stemmed from an event in February of 2010, Gordon was the victim of a death hoax on a Twitter feed when it was posted on Twitter and Facebook that Lightfoot had died. Lightfoot was at the dentist’s office when the rumors spread and he found out by listening to the radio on his drive home. He phoned the radio station, CJOB, that he kept hearing about his passing on and did an interview letting them know that he was alive and well.

On the eve of his 77th birthday it has been announced that in November 2016 Gordon will return to Toronto’s Massey Hall. The November 23, 24, 25 and 26 concerts will mark the legendary Juno Award-winning and Grammy-nominated singer's 160th appearance at the equally iconic Toronto venue. In addition it was announced that Lightfoot's first tour of the United Kingdom in 35 years was announced with 11 dates across England, Ireland and Scotland between May 18, 2016 and June 1, 2016 on the docket.

Happy birthday Gordon and thanks for all the great music and may there be lots more to come.