Ian Tyson is shown during an interview with The Canadian Press in Toronto on Monday, Oct.18, 2010. The Canadian folk legend has died at age 89.(THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn).

Ian Tyson is shown during an interview with The Canadian Press in Toronto on Monday, Oct.18, 2010. The Canadian folk legend has died at age 89.(THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn).

Canadian musical icon Ian Tyson dies at age 89

Musician Ian Tyson, who helped shine a global spotlight on Alberta’s rugged ranching life with his songs of loss and loneliness, has died at the age of 89.

The family of the Western Canadian country legend confirmed the singer-songwriter died from on-going health complications on Thursday, Dec. 29, at his ranch in southern Alberta, according to Stony Plain Records label.

Tyson was inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame in 1989, and into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, with his former wife and singing partner, Sylvia, in 1992. Tyson also was named a Member of the Order of Canada and received a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award.

Tyson was born to British immigrants in Victoria, and grew up in Duncan B.C. A rough-stock rodeo rider in his late teens and early twenties, he took up the guitar while recovering from an injury he sustained in a bad fall.

Tyson eventually hitchhiked to Toronto, where he met a young singer from small-town Ontario called Sylvia Fricker. As Ian & Sylvia, they were the Canadian stars of the early ’60s folk boom,

The pair married and made almost a dozen albums — and some of Canada’s best-loved songs, including Ian’s Four Strong Winds and Someday Soon, and Sylvia’s You Were on My Mind. The tunes were covered countless times by some of the most famous artists of our time, including Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Judy Collins, and Gordon Lightfoot.

Ian and Sylvia’s band Great Speckled Bird became a pioneer of country-folk and in the 1960s, rivaled the Byrds and other famed groups.

After hosting a national Canadian television music show from 1970 to 1975, Tyson returned to the Canadian West. His marriage and musical partnership with Sylvia had ended.

After three years of raising horses in the Rockies at Pincher Creek, Tyson recorded the album Old Corrals & Sagebrush, consisting of cowboy songs, both traditional and new. He had stated, “It was a kind of a musical Christmas card for my friends… We weren’t looking for a ‘hit.’

But it launched a new phase of his career as a solo artist.

In 2005, CBC Radio One listeners chose his song Four Strong Winds as the greatest Canadian song of all time. Tyson has influence on many other artists, including Young and Johnny Cash.

In 2006, Tyson seriously damaged his voice after a particularly tough performance at an outdoor country music festival. His formerly smooth voice was now hoarse, grainy, and had lost much of its resonance. But he reworked his songs to accommodate his new voice and continued to fill many concert halls.

Tyson released his most recent single You Should Have Known in September 2017 on Stony Plain Records, his label for 15 albums since the ‘80s. The song celebrated the hard-living cowboy life, joining favorites such Someday Soon, Summer Wages and others.

Tyson’s family indicated through his record label that they will hold a private funeral service.

Music

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