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Thursday, March 7, 2013
Stompin' Tom, a Canadian Icon, is dead at 77
From the Globe and Mail on March 6, 2013:
The song took on new resonance Wednesday night at the Air Canada Centre, as The Hockey Song played, followed by an announcement: Stompin’ Tom Connors was dead. The Canadian folk music legend died Wednesday. He was 77.
“We have lost a true Canadian original,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper – a hockey fan who is writing a book about the sport – tweeted. “R.I.P. Stompin’ Tom Connors. You played the best game that could be played.”
Charles Thomas Connors was born Feb. 9, 1936, in Saint John, N.B. His childhood was harsh: He was put in a foster home, adopted by a family in Skinner’s Pond, PEI, and left home at 15.
According to legend, his musical career was launched in the 1960s, when he was a nickel short of a beer at the Maple Leaf Hotel in Timmins, Ont. The bartender agreed to give him a drink if he would play a few songs. He stuck around for more than a year.
His first hit, Bud the Spud, set the tone: Stompin’ Tom loved Canada, and he was going to sing about it. Many other Canadiana folk hits followed: Canada Day, Up Canada Way, Big Joe Mufferaw, Sudbury Saturday Night, with its quintessentially Canadian chorus: “The girls are out to bingo and the boys are getting’ stinko. And we’ll think no more of Inco on a Sudbury Saturday night.”
Mr. Connors recorded 61 albums, according to his website, 10 of which have yet to be released to the public.
He remained fiercely patriotic, deriding Canadians who moved to the U.S. as “border jumpers.” He received the Order of Canada in 1996, and was the subject of a postage stamp in 2009. On Wednesday, as word spread of his death – from natural causes, a spokesman said – there were demands on social media for a state funeral, and for flags to be lowered to half-mast.
Good-bye, Tom. Rest in peace. We'll miss you.