Ian Tyson passes

Ian Tyson photo © Peter Scoular (used by permission)

Celebrated Canadian folk singer and songwriter Ian Tyson has died today at 89 years of age.

Though his career was focused on folk music, a number of Tyson’s songs have been memorably recorded in bluegrass, notably Summer Wages by J.D. Crowe & The New South, Four Strong Winds by Tony Rice, and Someday Soon by a number of artists, most recently Darin & Brooke Aldridge.

First coming onto the folk scene in the 1960s with his wife, Sylvia Fricker, as Ian & Sylvia, Tyson’s songs were instant hits during the folk boom, with several covered by Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and Judy Collins, who had a major hit with her version of Someday Soon.

After a dozen albums together, Ian & Sylvia evolved into Great Speckled Bird, an early entry into country rock. He hosted the Ian Tyson Show on Canadian TV from 1970-’75, but after divorcing from Sylvia, moved back to his native Canadian West and settled in Alberta where he developed a passion for training horses.

From there, Ian became a supporter of Cowboy Poetry and wrote a number of new cowboy songs.

He continued performing until 2006 when he injured his voice at an outdoor festival, trying to be heard over a sub par audio system. This injury, followed by a lingering virus, left his voice a mere raspy remnant of the smooth, powerful sound that had become his trademark.

Ian Tyson died on his ranch in Alberta following ongoing health issues. His family has requested privacy at this time, and will hold a private service in the near future.

R.I.P., Ian Tyson.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.