Canada heartbroken: Tragically Hip’s Gord Downie dead at 53 of brain cancer 

  • Shelby Lin Erdman, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
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Frontman Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip performs onstage during the band’s 'Man Machine Poem Tour' at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, Canada, on July 24, 2016. 

The lead singer of the Canadian alt-rock band the Tragically Hip, Gord Downie, died Wednesday night after a battle with terminal brain cancer.

Downie, 53, passed away surrounded by his children and family, according to a family statement on Twitter.

"Gord knew this day was coming – his response was to spend this precious time as he always had – making music, making memories and expressing deep gratitude to his family and friends for a life well lived,” the statement said.

Downie was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme, or terminal brain cancer, in December of 2015, but didn’t reveal the diagnosis until May of 2016, according to Rolling Stone.

"Gord said he had lived many lives," the statement continued.

"As a musician, he lived 'the life' for over 30 years, lucky to do most of it with his high school buddies. At home, he worked just as tirelessly at being a good father, son, brother, husband and friend. No one worked harder on every part of their life than Gord. No one."

The five members of the Tragically Hip started playing together in the mid-1980s. They gained some traction in the United States in the 90s, but never really caught on among American audiences.

They are huge superstars in Canada, though, producing 14 studio albums over three decades, with most going platinum, Rolling Stone reported. They were featured on postage stamps and received the Order of Canada.

Downie was also an environmentalist who worked on behalf of indigenous people and social justice issues.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called Downie’s command of language “profound.” 

He painted landscapes with his words, elevating Canadian geography, historical figures, and myths," Trudeau said.

"When he spoke, he gave us goosebumps and made us proud to be Canadian. 

Downie’s family thanked fans for “the respect, admiration and love” given to Downie throughout the years, in their statement following his death .

"Those tender offerings touched his heart and he takes them with him now as he walks among the stars."

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