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Dublin: 4 °C Monday 27 January, 2020

Tears from Trudeau and flags at half-mast as Canadian singer Gord Downie dies

“We are less as a country without Gord Downie in it.”

Gord Downie at Toronto's Air Canada Centre last year.
Gord Downie at Toronto's Air Canada Centre last year.
Image: Igor Vidyashev

CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER Justin Trudeau has paid a tearful tribute to Gord Downie, lead singer of The Tragically Hip who passed away on Tuesday night at 53.

Downie had been diagnosed with an incurable glioblastoma in 2016 and had spent his final months touring with the band and recording an album that will be released next week.

“We lost one of the very best of us this morning,” an emotional Trudeau said, tears streaming down his face.

“Gord was my friend, but he was all of our friend. Our buddy Gord.

He loved this country with everything he had…He loved every hidden corner, every story, every aspect of this country.

“He wanted to make it better. He wanted us to be better than we were,” Trudeau said of the man he called a friend.

“We are less as a country without Gord Downie in it.”

Obit Music Gord Downie An emotional Justin Trudeau makes his statement. Source: Adrian Wyld/AP

According to a statement by the band, Downie passed peacefully at home.

“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.”

Downie’s doctors made public his condition in May 2016, saying he had rebounded after undergoing surgery and chemotherapy but that the cancer was “incurable,” prompting an outpouring of support.

On the same day, the Tragically Hip announced a farewell tour. Downey’s final concert in August was broadcast live across Canada.

Source: GordonYYZ/YouTube

The alternative rock band broke out in the 1990s, selling over eight million albums. Downie’s lyrics – steeped in Canadiana – explored the poor treatment of indigenous peoples, environmental causes and the plight of the wrongfully convicted.

The Canadian senate announced that the flag on its Peace Tower will fly at half-mast until sunset on the day of Downie’s funeral.

Downie is survived by his wife and four children.

Read: The Dubliners’ guitarist Eamonn Campbell has died aged 70

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