Canadian Country Legend Ian Tyson Dies at 89
Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame inductee Ian Tyson has died. The decorated singer and songwriter was one half of Ian & Sylvia, whose song “Four Strong Winds” was once declared the greatest Canadian song of all time.
Ex-wife Sylvia Tyson confirmed the news of Ian Tyson’s death during an interview with CBC. He died at 89 on Thursday (Dec. 29) on his ranch in Alberta.
A press release notes that Tyson had ongoing health complications, but his ex-wife shares that he never recovered from major surgery several years ago. Reporting by the Toronto Star notes that he long suffered from heart problems.
As folk duo Ian & Sylvia (and later a country duo called the Great Speckled Bird), the Tysons would record more than a dozen albums before their marriage ended in 1975. They even moved to Nashville in the late 1960s, marking a transition to country-rock that did not hold. After the marriage ended, Ian Tyson would embark on a successful solo career, and he’d continue to perform well into his 80s.
“He’s kind of our Willie Nelson or Johnny Cash or Leonard Cohen,” Canadian country singer Corb Lund told CBC in 2019. “He’s a guy who’s most embodied the region in art, musically at least.”
Cash would record “Four Strong Winds” for his posthumous American V: Hundred Highways album. Bob Dylan was another artist with ties to Tyson who would cut one of his songs. Early in his career, Tyson was part of a folk movement that included a young Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and Gordon Lightfoot.
Ian Tyson, CM AOE became a member of the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame in 1989 and the Canadian Music Hall of Fame with Sylvia, in 1992. In 2019 he was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame.
The former rodeo star was married twice and has two kids; a son named Clay and a daughter named Adelita. A closed service will be held at a future date. Tyson’s publicist shares that in lieu of flowers, donations in his memory can go to the Ian Tyson Legacy Fund.
Country singer Brett Kissel was among those who turned to social media to share their thoughts on Tyson’s death:
To go deeper on the life and career of Ian Tyson, read an extensive obituary prepared by the Canadian Press.
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May they rest in peace …