Canadian Country Legend Ian Tyson Dies at 89

Canadian music icon, Ian Tyson, died on Thursday (Dec. 29) at the age of 89. His family confirmed the news of his passing in an official press release. It stated he passed away from ongoing health complications after having spent his final days at his southern Alberta ranch.

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Tyson was a longtime fixture in the Canadian music scene as a legendary folk, Western, and country-rock singer-songwriter. He kickstarted his storied career as one-half of the folk duo Ian & Sylvia in 1959. By 1961, the pair would become a full-fledged folk act, and husband and wife in 1964. The duo would evolve their sound throughout their career, going on to found and front the country-rock group, The Great Speckled Bird, in 1969.

Over a decade together the pair released over a dozen albums, writing and performing hits like Tyson’s “Four Strong Winds” and “Someday Soon,” and Sylvia’s “You Were on My Mind.” Their songs have been covered countless times by the likes of Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and Judy Collins. The couple even mentored aspiring Canadian singer Gordon Lightfoot.

By 1975, in both music and marriage, Ian & Sylvia were no more. Tyson rediscovered his first love— training horses in the ranch country of the Canadian West. He returned to his cowboying ways, but still continued to play and record music.

In 1989, Tyson was inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame and was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame alongside Sylvia in 1992. Tyson was granted the honor of Member of the Order of Canada in 1994 and in 2003, received a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award. He was also inducted into the Alberta Order of Excellence in 2006.  

His last single, “You Should Have Known,” was released in September 2017.

Photo by Boris Spremo/Toronto Star via Getty Images

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