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Music Tragically Hip singer Gord Downie diagnosed with terminal brain cancer

Gord Downie of The Tragically Hip, performing at the Air Canada Centre on Feb. 14, 2013.

J.P. MOCZULSKI/The Globe and Mail

Gord Downie, the lead singer of The Tragically Hip and one of Canada's biggest rock stars, has been diagnosed with terminal cancer.

"We have some very tough news to share with you today, and we wish it wasn't so," the band said on its website Tuesday.

"A few months ago, in December, Gord Downie was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer," the rock group added.

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"Since then, obviously, he's endured a lot of difficult times, and he has been fighting hard. In privacy along with his family, and through all of this, we've been standing by him."

Mr. Downie, a father of four, and the band plan a concert tour this summer.

"This feels like the right thing to do now, for Gord, and for all of us," said the band, which has been together for more than three decades and has won several Juno awards.

Downie suffered a seizure in December, 2015, in Kingston. An MRI‎ revealed a tumour in his left temporal lobe. Surgery was performed by Dr. Douglas Cook, a friend of the band, at Kingston General Hospital.

Dr. James Perry, Head of Neurology Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, told a press conference on Wednesday that "Gord's brain tumour is incurable. Unfortunately it will come back."

The vast majority of the tumour was excised, according to Dr. Perry. Post-surgery examination revealed that Downie has glioblastoma, the most common and most aggressive cancerous primary brain tumour.


Downie was treated with radiation at Sunnybrook that was completed a little more than a month ago. He is now undergoing maintenance chemotherapy treatments.

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The group's 14th studio album, Man Machine Poem, will be released on June 14, the statement said.

The Tragically Hip announced the news on its website and social media early Tuesday morning and reaction has been swift and sad.

"This is so sad. The Hip alone has gotten me through some of the best and worst times of my life," wrote Sarah Theresa on the group's Facebook page.

Amber Lachambre wrote: "This one hurts. He's not the voice of a band, he's the voice of our country."

The band was formed in 1983 in Kingston, Ont. when Mr. Downie got together with Rob Baker (lead guitar), Paul Langlois (rhythm guitar), Gord Sinclair (bass guitar) and Johnny Fay (drums). Their first album was the self-titled The Tragically Hip, in 1987.

One of the group's best known songs is Bobcaygeon, named after the community in east-central Ontario, north of Peterborough.

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Downie's performances of New Orleans Is Sinking in concert would become one of his trademarks. He regularly thrilled fans by reinventing the hit with different lyrics during an extended musical interlude.

They have released 12 studio albums and won 14 Juno Awards.

Mr. Downie, 52, has produced three solo projects, including 2001's Coke Machine Glow, an album that coincided with the publication of a book of poetry under the same title.

With a report from The Canadian Press

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