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Mendelson Joe, a singer-songwriter, artist and longtime activist, died at the age of 78 on Tuesday.

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Mendelson Joe. Photo by Karen Robinson of Karen Robinson Gallery, representing Mendelson Joe

Karen Robinson/Karen Robinson Gallery

Joe’s wife, Karen Robinson, confirmed he died at his home in Emsdale, Ont., north of Toronto, through Canada’s medical assistance in dying after living with Parkinson’s disease for more than five years.

Born Birrell Josef Mendelson in Toronto, Joe began his decades-long career performing as a blues musician in 1964 and later teamed up with guitarist Mike McKenna to form the band McKenna Mendelson Mainline.

Joe turned his artistic endeavours to painting in 1975 with his works focusing on political and social commentary including one of his most famous pieces depicting former prime minister Brian Mulroney with a backside for a face.

Joe went on to record thirty albums and he would later write several works of fiction, some unpublished.

In his obituary, which he wrote, Joe says Parkinson’s was a “dead end” for him and thanked Canada for allowing medical assistance in dying, adding it was a “sign of a civilized society.”

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