The Tragically Hip

The Tragically Hip

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About The Tragically Hip

The Tragically Hip—known to their legions of fans simply as the Hip—were the preeminent Canadian rock band of the '90s. Their poetic, detailed lyrics centered on the country's history and landmarks; notable songs cover the tragic disappearance and death of Toronto Maple Leafs player Bill Barilko ("Fifty Mission Cap") and the contrast between life in Toronto and in a small town ("Bobcaygeon"). The Hip originally formed in Kingston, Ontario, in the early '80s around the nucleus of vocalist/guitarist Gord Downie and several high-school friends, including guitarist Rob Baker, bassist Gord Sinclair, and drummer Johnny Fay. Gigs in Ontario clubs eventually led to a record deal, and their 1989 debut LP, Up to Here, which kicked off a two-decade-plus run where each of their studio albums went platinum or multiplatinum in Canada. Although the Hip's approach echoed R.E.M.'s intricate storytelling and social conscience—for example, Downie was a vocal supporter of indigenous rights—the Hip's music incorporated inspiration from melodic classic rock and the acoustic-electric tension favored by fellow Canadian icon Neil Young, in the form of loose folk grooves ("Ahead By a Century"), gritty blues swagger ("New Orleans Is Sinking"), and hard-rock boogie ("At the Hundredth Meridian"). Sadly, in 2016, the band announced Downie had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer. That same year, the group embarked on one last Canadian tour that illustrated how beloved they were—a massive hometown farewell show streamed and broadcast live reached 11.7 million people—and released the incisive album Man Machine Poem. Although Downie was open to the Hip continuing without him, the band officially called it a day after their frontman's death, securing their legacy as one of integrity and influence in Canada and beyond.

Kingston, Ontario, Canada

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