GORDON LIGHTFOOT FACTS:
Genre: Folk, Folk Rock
Hometown: Orillia, Ontario
Albums: Lightfoot! (1966); The Way I Feel (1967); Did She Mention My Name (1968); Back Here on Earth (1968); Sit Down Young Stranger (1970); Summer Side of Life (1971); Don Quixote (1972); Old Dan's Records (1972); Sundown (1974); Cold on the Shoulder (1975); Summertime Dream (1976); Endless Wire (1978); Dream Street Rose (1980); Shadows (1982); Salute (1983); East of Midnight (1986); Waiting for You (1993); A Painter Passing Through (1998); Harmony (2004)
Awards: 16 Juno Awards; 5 Grammy Nominations
Hits: "If You Could Read My Mind," "Sundown," "Carefree Highway," "Rainy Day People," "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald"
Other: The song "Sundown" is about his relationship with Cathy Smith.
As one of the pioneers of the folk-rock revival of the 1960s and '70s, Gordon Lightfoot is among the legends of Canadian music history. With a flair for songwriting that puts him in the discussion with some of the all-time greats, Lightfoot's impressive discography makes him a favorite of folk fans even more than 50 years after he burst onto the scene.
Born in Ontario, Lightfoot moved to California in 1958 but soon moved back to Canada, where his career took off not long after. He began to gain notoriety throughout the country thanks in part to a pair of singles, "(Remember Me) I'm The One" and "Negotiations/It's Too Late, He Wins." Despite his early success in singing his own works, his influence as a songwriter proved to be more substantial early on. Throughout the early '60s, he wrote songs that were performed by such legendary acts a Peter Paul and Mary, Elvis Presley and The Clancy Brothers.
After Lightfoot toiled behind the scenes for much of the first half of the decade, he released his debut album, Lightfoot!, in 1966. The record was a critical success and featured a number of classic tunes, most notably "I'm Not Sayin'," which was a substantial hit in his native Canada. Over the next several years, Lightfoot's production was prolific as he recorded and released four albums, including 1967's Did She Mention My Name? and 1968's Back Here on Earth.
Several years later, Lightfoot had his biggest success in the United States with "If You Could Read My Mind," a single off his 1970 album Sit Down Young Stranger. The song reached number four on the Billboard Hot 100, a rarity for a folk tune. Throughout the '70s, his mainstream popularity continued to grow and the decade was highlighted by his mournful 1976 song "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald," which chronicled true events.
During the '80s and into the '90s, Lightfoot remained among the most productive acts, and celebrated more than 40 years in the business with a taped live concert in Reno, Nevada, in 2000. Although he battled several health issues over the last 10 years, in 2009 he embarked on an extensive 26 city tour at the age of 71. Though he has not released a new album since 2004, Lightfoot continues to perform and remains an icon in the world of folk music.