Formed: 1983, Kingston, ON
Gordon Downie (lead vocals and guitar)
Paul Langlois (guitar)
Rob Baker (guitar)
Gord Sinclair (bass)
Johnny Fay (drums)
• 22 Top 40 Singles, including ten Top 10, and two #1
• 2 Diamond, 5 Multi-Platinum, and 4 Platinum studio albums
• Sold more than 5 million records in Canada
• Star on the Walk of Fame, 2002
• Inducted into the Music Hall of Fame, 2005
• 13 Juno Awards
Major Juno Awards
• Group of the Year, 1995 and 1997
• Song of the Year, 2000 (“Bobcaygeon”)
• Album of the Year, 1997 (Trouble at the Henhouse)
Studio Albums and Hit Singles
1989: Up to Here
1991: Road Apples
• 8x Platinum
• Hit Singles: “Little Bones” (#11 WP; #84 YE), “Twist My Arm” (#22 WP)
1992: Fully Completely
• Hit Singles: “Locked in the Trunk of a Car” (#11 WP; # n/a YE), “Fifty Mission Cap” (#40 WP), “Courage” (#10 WP; # 90 YE), “At the Hundredth Meridian” (#18 WP)
1994: Day for Night
• 6x Platinum
• Hit Singles: “Grace, Too” (#11 WP; #67 YE), “Greasy Jungle” (#8 WP; #66 YE), “Nautical Disaster” (#26 WP)
1996: Trouble at the Henhouse
• 5x Platinum
• Juno Award for Album of the Year, 1997
• Hit Singles: “Ahead by a Century” (#1 WP; #6 YE), “Gift Shop” (#4 WP; #48 YE), “700 Ft. Ceiling” (#22 WP), “Flamenco (#12 WP; #74 YE), “Springtime in Vienna” (#11 WP; #86 YE)
1998: Phantom Power
• 3x Platinum
• Hit Singles: “Poets” (#4 WP; # n/a YE), “Fireworks” (#9 WP; #80 YE), “Bobcaygeon” (#14 WP; #78 YE)
2000: Music @ Work
• 2x Platinum
2002: In Violet Light
• Hit Singles: “It’s a Good Life if You Don’t Weaken” (#4 WP)
2004: In Between Evolution
• Hit Singles: “Vaccination Scar” (#2 WP)
2006: World Container
• Hit Singles: “In View” (#1 WP)
2009: We Are the Same
• Hit Singles: “Love Is a First” (#22 WP), “Morning Moon” (#3 WP)
2012: Now for Plan A
• Hit Singles: “In Transformation” (#63 WP)
2016: Man, Machine, Poem
The Tragically Hip was easily the most popular Canadian rock band in the 90s and is one of the most successful bands in Canadian history. Two of their albums have attained diamond status. They were among the first to prove that scoring hit records in foreign countries was not necessary in order to generate substantial wealth.
The band formed in 1983 in Kingston and named itself after a skit performed in ex-Monkee Michael Nesmith’s film Elephant Parts. Canadians often refer to the band as simply “The Hip”. They began performing at clubs around southern Ontario before catching the attention of MCA Records’ president Bruce Dickinson who saw them perform at Toronto’s Horseshoe Tavern in 1986. They signed a long term record deal and released an eponymous EP in 1987. While the single “Smalltown Bringdown” saw some radio airplay, the EP and the band went unnoticed.
The Hip’s debut LP, Up to Here, appeared in 1989. Four singles were released, none of which made the Top 40. But the band managed to gain a large underground following, helping the album to peak at #13 on the charts. After the band’s big breakthrough, this album eventually reached diamond sales (ten years later). The band’s breakthrough came with its second full-length album, Road Apples, in 1991. Hit singles “Little Bones” and, to a lesser extent, “Twist My Arm”, helped the record top the album charts. It eventually sold over 800,000 copies in Canada (8x Platinum). The Tragically Hip, led by Gordon Downie’s characteristically twangy vocals, were now outselling fellow rock bands Rush, Blue Rodeo, and the Crash Test Dummies.
They followed up with Fully Completely and scored their first Top 10 hit, “Courage”. The album eventually became certified Diamond by the CRIA. With the release of Day for Night and their biggest hit to date, “Greasy Jungle”, they signed a US deal through Atlantic Records to see the album distributed south of the border, but the label was unwilling to invest in a conclusive marketing plan to bring the band to the attention of the American public. They were selling so well in Canada, however, that it didn’t seem to matter at that point. The band appeared on Saturday Night Live in 1995 and at the Junos that year, were named Group of the Year.
In 1996, Trouble at the Henhouse was released and, among the five Top 30 hits, saw their first number one, “Ahead by a Century”, the sixth biggest song of the year in Canada. The following year, they received their second Juno for Group of the Year, and their first for Album of the Year.
Phantom Power came next and, although it wasn’t the biggest success on the singles chart, “Bobcaygeon”, perhaps for its artistic lyrical and musical composition was named Song of the Year at the Junos. Sales were not as good for releases in the new millennium, but The Hip continued to come out with new albums that spawned the occasional hit single. They saw their second number one hit, “In View”, from 2006’s Bob Rock-produced World Container.
Throughout their career, The Tragically Hip toured rigorously throughout the country as well as in Australia and Europe. They co-founded “Another Roadside Attraction” series of tours to raise money for various charities in the 90s. In 2002, The Hip performed at the Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, USA. That year, they received a star on the Walk of Fame and three years later were inducted into the Music Hall of Fame. In 2016, frontman Gord Downie was diagnosed with cancer, and the band went on a final tour to promote new album Man, Machine, Poem. A large percentage of tickets were purchased by scalpers resulting in the CBC deciding to broadcast one of the concerts. Gord released solo album Secret Path which addresses historical injustices meted out to Aboriginal Peoples.
Copyright 2011 by the Canadian Music Blog