Canadian Singer Ian Tyson Dies At 89!
Mr. Tyson passed away on Thursday at 89 at his ranch in southern Alberta. He began his musical career as one-half of the folk-era duo Ian and Sylvia. He went on to become a revered figure in his native country, honored for his music and his dedication to the culture of Canada’s ranch country.
He passed away following “ongoing health issues,” his family announced without going into further detail.
Mr. Tyson spent most of his life as a rancher and a musician. In 2005, the audience of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation public radio network chose his song “Four Strong Winds” as the most crucial piece of Canadian music.
His music, if not always his name, became well-known in the United States because of performances of songs like “Four Strong Winds” by Mr. Young, Johnny Cash, and others and “Someday Soon,” particularly by Judy Collins.
But his reputation as a seasoned rancher-musician who performed and managed the Tyson ranch south of Calgary well into his 80s while tenaciously persevering in the face of aging, shifting cultural preferences, economic hardship, and, for a time, the loss of his voice, made him iconic in Canada, much like Mr. Cash was on the other side of the border.
In the 2006 Jonathan Demme concert film “Heart of Gold,” Mr. Young described how, when he was 16 or 17, he used all of his money to repeatedly play the Ian and Sylvia rendition of “Four Strong Winds” on the jukebox at a café outside of Winnipeg. He described it as the most beautiful record he had ever heard, adding, “I just could not get enough of it.”
The second child of George and Margaret Tyson, Ian Dawson Tyson, was born in Victoria, British Columbia, on September 25, 1933. On a modest property owned by his father, an insurance salesman and polo aficionado who had immigrated from England in 1906, Mr. Tyson first learned to ride horses. As a child, Mr. Tyson was fascinated by horses. In his teens, he started competing in rodeo events. He picked up the guitar while receiving treatment for a broken ankle he got in a fall at a Calgary hospital.
He started playing folk and rock music in the late 1950s, but after receiving his degree in art from the Vancouver School of Art, he left for Toronto to work as a commercial artist the following year.
He performed there in neighborhood clubs, and in 1959 he started duetting with a young woman with dark hair named Sylvia Fricker. They started playing as Ian and Sylvia as a full-time folk duo in 1961, and they got hitched four years later.
They relocated to New York in 1962 and established themselves as pillars of the developing American folk scene. They also became close friends with Bob Dylan and his girlfriend Suze Rotolo, who, in her memoir “A Freewheelin’ Time” from 2008, referred to Mike Tyson as “movie-star handsome” and “the best looking of all the cowboy dudes in Greenwich Village.” They were signed to Vanguard Records by powerful manager Albert Grossman, who also represented Mr. Dylan, Peter, Paul, and Mary. Most of the songs on their debut album, “Ian & Sylvia,” were classic British and Canadian folk songs.
“Four Strong Winds,” their second album, was more diverse. It featured Mr. Dylan’s “Tomorrow Is a Long Time” and Mr. Tyson’s debut song, the album’s title track, which he claimed to have written in less than an hour after becoming inspired by Mr. Dylan’s ascent to songwriting stardom.
In Vernon, British Columbia, he claimed it was about “a wonderful Greek girl, I was continually leaving and regretting it.” (Her name was Evinia Pulos, and it came out that they had an on-again, off-again relationship for more than 60 years.) It set the tone for how his work would develop over time. It was a story of lost love, itinerant farm and ranch work set against the Canadian West, and the unyielding elements of nature (“Four powerful winds that blow lonely/Seven seas that run high/All those things that don’t alter come what may”).
Before the Byrds’ landmark country-rock album, “Sweetheart of the Rodeo,” was released in 1968, the two moved to Nashville, where they created the country rock band Great Speckled Bird and recorded two albums with a country influence. Before ceasing their live performances and divorcing in 1975, the couple made 13 albums.
Back in western Canada, Mr. Tyson resumed ranching and concentrated on his solo career. Between 1970 and 1975, after anchoring a program on Canada’s national television network, he nearly gave up music before reinventing himself as a cowboy and Western act rather than a folk performance.
His first release was the well-received “Old Corrals and Sagebrush” album from 1983, which mixed traditional cowboy music with original songs about the West. His “Cowboyography” achieved platinum status in Canada in 1986. He gradually established himself as a well-known Canadian figure with a stiff-legged walk and signature cowboy hat. He ranched recorded music and performed at gatherings and concerts like the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada.
Additionally, he produced several poignant, obstinately out-of-style records, such as “Songs from the Gravel Road,” that explored the appeal and drawbacks of the lonely ranching life. His life also remained convoluted, with a never-ending list of accolades and medals and a marriage to Twylla Biblow in 1986 that resulted in divorce in 2008. She was a teenager, less than half his age. The number of survivors in their entirety wasn’t immediately known.
At the Havelock Country Jamboree in Ontario in 2006, Mr. Tyson severely strained his vocal, and a virus a year later exacerbated and irreparably damaged the condition.
His beautiful baritone had deteriorated to a husky whisper by the time he returned two years later. Still, his fame endured thanks to the release of the album “From Yellowhead to Yellowstone and Other Love Stories.” His music was a constant reflection of the lonesome ranching lifestyle, the allure of nature, the suffering of broken hearts, and lost loves.
Some specifics at his T-Bar-Y ranch were caught in a 2008 feature on him in The Globe and Mail when he was around 75 years old: the workday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. The laundry on Monday (five pairs of Wranglers to get him through the week). The buffalo he grilled was “mean, garlicky.” The store was stocked with cowboy hats and literature, including “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “The Western Buckle: History, Art, Culture, Function,” and “Divisadero” by Michael Ondaatje. Life is hard, according to the refrigerator magnet he had. Being foolish makes life more difficult. John Wayne
He told the reporter Marsha Lederman, “I became a historian, a chronicler of this way of life, and this way of life is just about done. All of the cowboys had left.
It was a subject he frequently returned to. Tyson once stated, “People always tell me, ‘Tyson, you wish for the old days. “And they are correct; I do live in the past. And it was much improved.
How Did Canadian Singer Ian Tyson Die?
At 89, Ian Tyson passed away at his ranch outside Longview, Alberta, on December 29, 2022. According to his manager Paul Mascioli, he had multiple ongoing medical conditions, including a heart attack and open heart surgery in 2015.