Gordon Lightfoot, the Canadian singer-songwriter whose enduring folk hits included “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” and “Sundown,” died Monday, his spokesperson told CNN. He was 84.
Lightfoot died of natural causes at 7:30 p.m. at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto, spokesperson Victoria Lord said.
His death comes less than a month after he canceled his 2023 US and Canada concert schedule on April 11. That cancellation was due to “health related issues” according to a Facebook post.
Lightfoot found success on the US pop charts in 1970 with the song “If You Could Read My Mind.” That track also earned the artist his second of four Grammy nominations, that one for best male pop vocal performance.
His 1976 ballad about the sinking of a Great Lakes cargo ship, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” reached No. 2 on the Billboard charts. Other hits included “Carefree Highway.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau described the folk icon as “one of our greatest singer-songwriters” in a tweet Monday night expressing his condolences.
“Gordon Lightfoot captured our country’s spirit in his music – and in doing so, he helped shape Canada’s soundscape. May his music continue to inspire future generations, and may his legacy live on forever,” Trudeau wrote.
Inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1986, Lightfoot garnered 13 prestigious JUNO awards – out of a total 29 nominations – presented by the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.
He was also bestowed one of his country’s highest civilian honors, the Companion of the Order of Canada, in 2003.
Born in Orillia, Ontario, in 1938, Lightfoot has credited Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan as among his greatest influences.
Lightfoot’s songs have been covered by numerous legendary artists, including Dylan, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Neil Young, Barbra Streisand and Eric Clapton, according to the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.
His life and legacy were examined in a 2020 documentary, “Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind.”
“I was disturbed by the fact that hardly anybody had a bad word to say about me,” Lightfoot said of the documentary.
Though widely lauded as an icon, Lightfoot told The Globe and Mail in 2008 that he didn’t feel entirely comfortable with the label.
“Sometimes I wonder why I’m being called an icon, because I really don’t think of myself that way. I’m a professional musician and I work with very professional people. It’s how we get through life,” he told the publication.