Canadian country-folk music legend Stompin’ Tom Connors passed away Wednesday night at the age of 77.
The toe-tapping singer and guitarist, often described as one of Canada’s strongest cultural icons, is said to have died of natural causes.
Connors, best known for his anthem “The Hockey Song”, got his name from his habit of stomping the floor with his left foot while he played.
Sad to hear that legendary Canadian Stompin’ Tom Connors has passed. His legacy lives on in arenas every time “The Hockey Song” is played.
— NHL (@NHL) March 7, 2013
A devoted patriot, in 1978 he returned all the Juno Awards he had received to date as a protest against artists being awarded in categories outside their genre and conducting most of their work outside of the country.
He famously called artists that moved to the United States “border jumpers.”
He said in a statement at the time:
I feel that the Junos should be for people who are living in Canada, whose main base of business operations is in Canada, who are working toward the recognition of Canadian talent in this country and who are trying to further the export of such talent from this country to the world with a view to proudly showing off what this country can contribute to the world market.
“Sincerely, Your Friend always, Stompin’ Tom Connors.” Read Stompin’ Tom’s final letter to fans: bit.ly/13HUvcU
— Maclean’s Magazine (@MacleansMag) March 7, 2013
In addition to the wildly popular hockey song, he was known for other patriotic anthems including Canada Day, Up Canada Way, Bud the Spud, and Sudbury Saturday Night.
Born in Saint John, New Brunswick on February 9, 1936, to an unwed teenage mother, he was poverty-stricken a child, hitchhiking with his mother from the age of three and begging on the street by the age of four.
At age 9 he was adopted by a family from Prince Edward Island, though he ran away four years later to hitchhike across the country.
#Stompin‘ Tom Connors, 77, dies at his home in Ontario. Wrote over 300 songs, released 4 dozen albums in his career
— CBC News Alerts (@CBCAlerts) March 7, 2013
He is said to have begun his musical career at age 28 when, short 5 cents for a beer, he was offered a drink in exchange for playing a few songs on the guitar, spanning a 49-year-long career.
Connors is survived by his wife, four children and several grandchildren.
Stompin Tom Connors knew and loved Canada. He never apologized for just being Canadian. An example for the rest of us.
— The Roy Green Show (@TheRoyGreenShow) March 7, 2013
We have lost a true Canadian original. R.I.P. Stompin’ Tom Connors. You played the best game that could be played.
— Stephen Harper (@pmharper) March 7, 2013
The push is on for a state funeral for Stompin’ Tom Connors.If you think that’s what he deserves contact @pmharper and RT
— Q107 Toronto (@Q107Toronto) March 7, 2013