May 24, 2016 / 2:12 PM / 2 years ago

Tragically Hip to tour despite lead singer's terminal cancer

TORONTO (Reuters) - The lead singer of Canadian rock band the Tragically Hip, Gord Downie, has been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer but the band will go on tour this summer because it “feels like the right thing to do,” the band said on Tuesday.

The Tragically Hip's lead singer Gordon Downie performs during the band's opening act for the Rolling Stones in Moncton, New Brunswick, September 3, 2005. REUTERS/Paul Darrow/File Photo

Downie, 52, who has been recognized as one of Canada’s greatest song writers, was diagnosed in December and has been “fighting hard,” the band said on its website and its Facebook page.

“So after 30-some years together as The Tragically Hip, thousands of shows, and hundreds of tours ... We’ve decided to do another one,” the band said in a statement. “This feels like the right thing to do now, for Gord, and for all of us.”

The band said it will release details of the tour later this week.

The Hip started in the mid-1980s as a cover band playing to university students and small pubs in Kingston, Ontario, and worked its way into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2005, collecting dozens of awards along the way.

Downie has written songs about Canada’s land, history and culture in a style that won airplay on both classic and alternative rock radio stations.

“Gord Downie” was the top-trending term on Twitter in Canada Tuesday morning after the news of his illness broke and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was among those expressing his admiration for Downie on the social media platform.

“Gord Downie is a true original who has been writing Canada’s soundtrack for more than 30 years. #Courage,” Trudeau tweeted.

Several Canadian journalists and musicians also expressed their shock and dismay.

“Gord Downie is the voice of open highway in the Canadian summer, with the window down and the radio up. Thank you, Gord,” wrote Sean Fitz-Gerald (@SeanFitz_Gerald), a reporter for the Toronto Star.

“Slapped awake by news radio this morning - we love you Gord Downie, and we owe you magnificently. Steady on skipper,” tweeted Hey Rosetta! (@heyrosetta), a Canadian indie rock band.

Reporting by Andrea Hopkins; Additional reporting by Amy Tennery in New York; Editing by Bill Trott

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