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In Memoriam: Gordon Lightfoot, CC, O.Ont (1938-2023)

In Memoriam: Gordon Lightfoot, CC, O.Ont (1938-2023)

Published on May 2, 2023

The Royal Conservatory mourns the loss of Gordon Lightfoot, acclaimed singer and songwriter, and RCM alumnus. 

Gordon Lightfoot

Born in Orillia, ON, Gordon Lightfoot’s musical talent was discovered and nurtured at a young age. As a successful child performer, Mr. Lightfoot’s earliest performances were on local radio and further developed through competing in music festivals. At only 13 years of age, he made his Massey Hall debut — a venue he returned to annually in a highly anticipated Toronto tradition. As a teenager, Mr. Lightfoot taught himself to play piano and drums and earned his Level 8 Voice from the RCM Certificate Program in 1960. 

The Royal Conservatory was thrilled to host Mr. Lightfoot’s 70th birthday celebration at the Conservatory in 2008 where he entertained everyone all evening, as he always did, through stories and song.

A Canadian folk music icon, Mr. Lightfoot achieved international prominence as a solo artist with a series of pop and country hits, including “If You Could Read My Mind,” “Sundown,” “Carefree Highway,” “Rainy Day People” and “The Wreck of The Edmund Fitzgerald.” 

Among many honours, Mr. Lightfoot won 12 Juno Awards, was a Member of the Order of Ontario and a Companion of the Order of Canada, he has been inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, Canada’s Walk of Fame, the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, the US Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame and Canadian Folk Music Walk of Fame. 

Dr. Peter Simon and Gordon Lightfoot
Today, we mourn the passing of a great man. Gordon was an ambassador for Canada – a masterful composer and chronicler of this nation – with a voice that made him instantly identifiable. He will be deeply missed.
Dr. Peter Simon, President & CEO

As one of the most acclaimed and respected songwriters of the 20th century, and one of the most significant musicians that Canada has ever produced, the RCM is proud to count him amongst our illustrious alumni and joins the nation and music community in mourning his loss.