Country music legend Ian Tyson has died aged 89

The Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame member died on his Alberta ranch after persistent health issues.

A Foothills country music legend has died.

On December 29, Canadian country musician Ian Tyson died at the age of 89 on his ranch, following lingering health complications.

Born to British immigrants in Victoria, Tyson grew up in Duncan, British Columbia, becoming a flea market rider in his teens and twenties. It was while recovering from a rodeo injury that he took up the guitar again.

While hitchhiking from Vancouver Island to Toronto, he met small-town Ontario singer Sylvia Fricker. As a duo, the two were swept up in the folk boom of the 60s, marrying in 1964.

They’ve created nearly a dozen albums and songs like Ian’s four strong winds and one day soonand that of Sylvie You were on my mindcovered by Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Judy Collins.

The couple mentored another up-and-coming singer of the time, Gordon Lightfoot.

Tyson returned to the West after hosting a Canadian national television show from 1970 to 1975. His marriage and creative partnership with Fricker having ended, he spent time training horses in southern Alberta.

Three years later though, he got back on the mic and recorded the cowboy album Old corrals and sagebrush.

« It was kind of a musical Christmas card for my friends, » Tyson recalled, quoted in a press release from Eric Alper. « We weren’t looking for a ‘hit’ or a radio play or anything like that. »

He was inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame in 1987 and in 2005, four strong winds was named the greatest Canadian song of all time by CBC Radio One listeners in the 50 Tracks: The Canadian Version series.

There were a few bumps in the track, however, and in 2006, after a performance at an outdoor country music festival, Tyson severely damaged his voice.

« I fought the sound system and lost, » he said afterwards.

After a months-long battle with a virus soon after and the resulting loss of his smooth voice, Tyson began working with his new, rougher voice to the delight of his devoted fans.

His latest single You should have known was released in 2017 on Stony Plain Records, a tribute to the life of a cowboy who lives hard, drinks hard and loves hard, celebrated throughout his oeuvre.

The family will hold a closed service and have requested confidentiality at this time.

Donations in Ian’s memory can be made to the Ian Tyson Legacy Fund –


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