By Allan Muir
Tough news tonight for Canadian music fans. Stompin' Tom Connors will stomp no more.
The country music legend--and closet punk--died today of natural causes according to a post on his website. He was 77.
American hockey fans may not recognize the name, but they'll definitely know his most famous work. 'The Hockey Song', also known as 'The Good Old Hockey Game,' is a singalong staple at NHL and minor league rinks.
Connors was a prolific folk and country singer/songwriter with more than 40 albums to his credit and a wildly diverse fan base. I remember driving with a bunch of punks to a London, Ont. gig around 1979 and the crowd was the most stunning cross section of people I'd ever seen at a show. Mohawks mingled with blue hairs, country roughnecks and metal kids. His music didn't appeal to a style as much as a desire to hear songs about us, about Canada, and nobody did it better than Tom.
And that closet punk thing? Read this great piece by Dave Bidini. Chunking his awards in front of the people that honored him? Doesn't get any more punk than that.
The rest of his catalogue isn't widely heard outside of Canada, but it's well worth checking out. Some of his best: Sudbury Saturday Night, Tillsonburg and Big Joe Mufferaw.
He prepared a final message for his fans just prior to his passing. It was posted on his site this evening:
"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 its 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."
Your Friend always,
Stompin' Tom Connors