Stompin' Tom Connors, the beautifully rugged Canadian country-folk singer who in a sense kept us real, has died Wednesday of natural causes, according to a release on his website. He was 77.
His songs, most notably 'Sudbury Saturday Night' and 'Bud the Spud' captured what it meant to be Canadian. One of his most popular, 'The Hockey Song', is a staple at arenas around the country and could be considered be our second national anthem.
His career spanned three hundred songs, four dozen albums with over four million copies sold. One of the great, prolific musicians of our nation.
Rarely seen without his black cowboy hat, Connors had a strong sense of Canadian patriotism and earned his nickname for the way he pounded his left foot during performances.
A spokesperson for Connors, Brian Edwards, said the singer knew he was in declining health and penned a final message for his fans a few days before his death. The message is posted on his website:
"Hello friends, I want all my fans, past, present or future to know that without you, there would have not been any Stompin' Tom."
"It was a long hard bumpy road, but this great country kept me inspired with it's beauty, character, and spirit, driving me to keep marching on and devoted to sing about its people and places that make Canada the greatest country in the world."
"I must now pass the torch, to all of you, to help keep the Maple Leaf flying high, and be the Patriot Canada needs now and in the future."
"I humbly thank you all, one last time, for allowing me in your homes, I hope I continue to bring a little bit of cheer into your lives from the work I have done."
He was born on February 9, 1936 in Saint John, New Brunswick and raised by foster parents on Prince Edward Island until thirteen. He eventually won six Juno awards, which he famously returned to protest the "Americanization of the Canadian Music Industry."
He declined induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1993, but embraced the Order of Canada in 1996 and his own postage stamp.
Connors is survived by his wife Lena, two sons, two daughters and several grandchildren. A memorial service is planned for March 13 in Peterborough at the Memorial Centre, where the Peterborough Petes of the OHL play.
'Bud The Spud' from Across This Land
'Sudbury Saturday Night' at The Horseshoe Tavern, 1973
'Bud The Spud' in Hamilton, 2005
'Tilsonburg' in Hamilton, 2005