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Gordon Lightfoot in Toronto in March 2008.

Peter Power/Photo by Pete Power / The Globe and Mail

Canadian folk icon Gordon Lightfoot is alive and well, says the singer's long-time friend, despite rumours to the contrary which spread quickly on Twitter and were picked up by some mainstream media outlets.

"I'm fine, everything is good. I don't know where it comes from. It seems like a bit of a hoax or something," the folk icon told all-news station CP24.

"I was quite surprised to hear (it) myself."

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He went on to joke: "I haven't had so much airplay on my music now for weeks."

Bernie Fiedler, Lightfoot's some-time publicist and road manager, said at 2:40 p.m. ET that the singer-songwriter was very much alive and in Toronto. Indeed, he claimed Lightfoot's secretary had spoken with the artist "just a half-an-hour ago."

Mr. Fiedler claimed in a phone conversation that the death report was "a prank" originating as "a Twitter coming out of Ottawa." He indicated a media release might be issued soon putting the rumour of Mr. Lightfoot's death to rest.

Mr. Fiedler also has been Lightfoot's concert promoter and tour organizer.

A Canwest news service story reported the death Thursday afternoon and quoted singer Ronnie Hawkins, who reportedly confirmed the rumour. The story was published on several websites, including the Vancouver Sun, the Ottawa Citizen and the Calgary Herald, before it was pulled down.

One report had singer Ronnie Hawkins confirming the death.

Mr. Hawkins says he heard the rumour via his management team in the United States, which said they heard it by phone from someone claiming to be Lightfoot's grandson.

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"I think they can trace that phone call, maybe, and see who did that," Hawkins said from his home in Peterborough, Ont.

"Oh what a dirty, sick joke that is, but I'm glad it was a sick joke and not the truth."

A spokesman for Canwest did not immediately return calls for comment.

With a report from The Canadian Press

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