Tragically Hip singer diagnosed with terminal brain cancer

The show goes on for The Tragically Hip as they announce they will continue touring despite lead singer Gord Downie being diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.
This file photo taken on April 2, 2005 shows Gord Downie of The Tragically Hip performing during the 2005 Juno Awards ceremony in Winnipeg, Canada.
This file photo taken on April 2, 2005 shows Gord Downie of The Tragically Hip performing during the 2005 Juno Awards ceremony in Winnipeg, Canada. PHOTO: AFP

OTTAWA (AFP) - Tragically Hip singer Gord Downie has terminal brain cancer, the Canadian band announced on Tuesday (May 24) ahead of what is likely to be a farewell tour.

Downie, 52, was diagnosed in December, he and his bandmates said on their website.

"We have some very tough news to share with you today, and we wish it wasn't so," the statement started, adding that Downey "has been fighting hard" since his diagnosis.

Neuro-oncologist James Perry told a televised press conference that Downey was diagnosed with glioblastoma (GBM) after the singer suffered a seizure during a walk in his hometown of Kingston, Ontario.

Downey has rebounded after undergoing surgery and six weeks of chemotherapy, which reduced swelling in his brain and shrank the tumor, the doctor said.

But, he added, "Gord Downie's brain tumor is incurable."

"Unfortunately one day it will come back."

Median survival is about 14.6 months for patients with the most aggressive form of the cancer, but about 10 per cent may live five years or longer, according to the American Brain Tumor Association.

The alternative rock band broke out in the 1990s with hits such as "New Orleans is Sinking," "Blow at High Dough" and "38 Years Old." In 2005, The Tragically Hip was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and three years ago was featured on a Canadian stamp.

"No band in our history has embraced/defined #canadianity more than The Hip," actor Jonathan Torrens of the television series Trailer Park Boys said in a Twitter message.

"Gutted by this news. Gord IS Canada"

The band's 14th studio album, "Man Machine Poem," will be released next month, and a tour is being planned for this summer.

"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.

"This feels like the right thing to do now, for Gord, and for all of us.

"What we in The Hip receive, each time we play together, is a connection; with each other; with music and it's magic; and during the shows, a special connection with all of you, our incredible fans."