Gordon Lightfoot, Canadian folk legend, dead at 84

Canadian singer and performer Gordon Lightfoot, who rose to international fame as a folk music star in the 1960s and ’70s, died on Monday. He was 84.

“Gordon Lightfoot passed away this evening in a Toronto hospital at 7:30 pm (2330 GMT),” a post on his official Facebook page read, as obituaries started pouring in from the Canadian press.

The immediate cause of death was not made public. “More info to come,” read the post.

Lightfoot, born in Ontario, made his performing debut in 1943, at the age of five, singing “I’m A Little Teapot” at a local church Sunday school, according to his website.

He later found himself immersed in the Canadian and American folk scene, amid contemporaries like Joni Mitchell and Neil Young.

While he is known as a folk and folk-pop star of the late 20th century, Lightfoot’s popularity — and continued songwriting — meant he was touring internationally until just last month.

In April, the singer canceled his 2023 tour dates, citing unspecified health issues.

Lightfoot’s songs — dealing with everything from a failed marriage to the beauty of the Canadian countryside — were covered by artists including Elvis Presley, Harry Belafonte, Bob Dylan and The Grateful Dead.

The singer, known for hits such as “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” “Early Morning Rain,” and “If You Could Read My Mind,” was often hailed as a modern-day poet in his native Canada.

Dylan once called Lightfoot one of his favorite artists, saying “I can’t think of any (songs) I don’t like.”

Lightfoot, on the other hand, was more reserved about his talents, once telling Canadian paper The Globe and Mail: “Sometimes I wonder why I’m being called an icon, because I really don’t think of myself that way.”

But his modesty was to no avail.

“He is our poet laureate. He is our iconic singer-songwriter,” Geddy Lee, the lead singer of Rock band Rush, told a 2019 documentary about Lightfoot.

Lightfoot “was hailed as Canada’s folk troubadour for his soulful music and stirring lyrics,” broadcaster CBC wrote in its obituary.

Lightfoot is survived by his third wife, Kim Hasse, according to music publication Billboard.