Gordon Lightfoot Passes at 84

Canadian singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot died Monday from complications related to emphysema. He was 84.

Last month he canceled over a dozen upcoming concerts in Arizona, California and Florida due to “some health-related issues” with his spokesperson asking that his privacy be respected as he “continues to focus on his recovery.”

Lightfoot wrote over 500 songs, including such iconic ones as “Early Morning Rain,” “If You Can Read My Mind,” “Sundown,” “Carefree Highway,” and “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.”

Lightfoot cited Bob Dylan as an influence, and Dylan was a fan, saying, “Every time I hear a song of his it’s like I wish it would last forever.”

Dylan, who covered Lightfoot’s 1965 song, “Early Morning Rain” — as did Ian & Sylvia, and Elvis Presley – inducted him into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1986, calling him a “rare talent.”

A 2012 inductee into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, Lightfoot has also won 16 Juno Awards; an ASCAP award for songwriting; five Grammy nominations; Canadian male recording artist of the decade, for his work in the 1970s; induction into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001; induction into Canada’s Walk of Fame in 1998; and in May 2003 he was made a Companion of the Order of Canada, the country’s highest civilian honor. He is also a member of the Order of Ontario, the highest honor in the province of Ontario. And in 2007 Canada Post honored him with a postage stamp.

In the 2019 documentary Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind Rush frontman Geddy Lee called him Canada’s “poet laureate” and “our iconic singer-songwriter.”

Born on November 17th, 1938, in Orillia, Ontario, Lightfoot battled numerous health ailments throughout his career, including alcoholism, a life-threatening abdominal hemorrhage and aneurysm in 2002 that left him in a coma for six weeks, a minor stroke in 2006, and emphysema.

Married three times, he also had numerous affairs, including one with Cathy Smith, the groupie who dated Keith Richards and John Belushi (to whom she administered the fatal dose of heroin and cocaine in 1982 and was charged with involuntary manslaughter). He leaves behind six children and several grandchildren.

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