TORONTO — Gordon Lightfoot, a Canadian folk singer whose hits included “Sundown,” “If You Could Read My Mind,” “Carefree Highway” and “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” died Monday. He was 84.
Lightfoot’s death at a Toronto hospital was announced by his longtime publicist Victoria Lord, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. His death was also announced on his official Facebook page. No other details were provided.
Lightfoot scored a string of hits during the 1970s, beginning with “If You Could Read My Mind” in 1970, The New York Times reported The song was inspired by the breakup of his first marriage, according to the newspaper.
Those were followed by “Sundown,” “Carefree Highway,” “Rainy Day People” and “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.” The latter song was written after Lightfoot read a Newsweek article about the sinking of an iron-ore carrier in Lake Superior in 1975 that lost all 29 crew members, the Times reported.
“He is our poet laureate, he is our iconic singer-songwriter,” Rush singer Geddy Lee said in the 2019 documentary “Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind,” according to CBC.
“If there was a Mount Rushmore in Canada, Gordon would be on it,” Tom Cochrane said in that same documentary.
“If You Could Read My Mind,” reached No. 5 on the U.S. charts and the album “Sit Down Young Stranger” went to No. 12 in the U.S., Variety reported.
Lightfoot had three consecutive No. 1 albums in Canada from 1972 to 1974.
His 1974 album “Sundown” contained the single of the same name -- the only hit that reached No. 1 in both the U.S. and Canada, Variety reported. The album reached No. 1 in both countries and his 1976 hit “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” peaked at No 2 in the U.S. in 1976, the entertainment news website reported.
Gordon Meredith Lightfoot Jr. was born on Nov. 17, 1938, in Orillia, Ontario, according to the Times. As a youth, he sang in a church choir, performed on local radio shows and excelled in singing competitions.
“Man, I did the whole bit: Oratorio work, Kiwanis contests, operettas, barbershop quartets,” he told Time magazine in 1968.
Lightfoot wrote his first song, “The Hula Hoop Song,”in 1955, while still attending high school, according to CBC.
He also appeared in 1982′s “Harry Tracy,” playing a U.S. marshal in a film that starred Bruce Dern and Helen Shaver.