We hear it at NHL games. It echoes through minor league arenas. It’s something heard over static-filled speakers at youth hockey tournaments around North America. It’s “The Hockey Song”; and its creator, Canadian folk singer Stompin’ Tom Connors, died at 77 on Wednesday.
From the Canadian Press:
Connors passed away Wednesday from what a spokesman described as "natural causes."“The Hockey Song” debuted on the 1973 album “Stompin’ Tom and the Hockey Song.” According to a 2008 interview on Sportsnet, the song didn’t become the iconic arena tune it is today until over two decades later:
… In the message posted on his website, Connors says Canada kept him "inspired with it's beauty, character, and spirit, driving me to keep marching on and devoted to sing about its people and places that make Canada the greatest country in the world."
Q: Were you surprised that some 20 years after its release, The Hockey Song suddenly enjoyed a second coming when the Ottawa Senators played it at home games?Since then, it’s appeared everywhere from “Late Night With Conan O’Brien” to EA Sports commercials.
A: It didn't take off overnight either. I didn't even know the Senators were playing it. I heard the same as anybody else. I hadn't even heard it watching the games. People were telling me they're playing your hockey song (at Senators games). That's how I got wind of it. It became a sleeper and what I mean by that is radio didn't care to know anything about it, I guess. They still don't play it.
Q: But when the Senators started playing it, the story goes Leaf coach Pat Burns heard it and wanted it played at Leaf games. True?
A: Some of the Leafs when they were younger had heard the song, too, in their local arena and they said, 'Hey, the Senators have a great idea here.' So then the Leafs started playing it and before you know it, American teams were right on it and they started playing it.
Here's the full release from his official site on his passing ...
Peterborough, ON (March 6, 2013) Today Canada lost one of its' true musical icons with the passing of Stompin’ Tom Connors O.C.,LL.D.,Litt.D. Connors died of natural causes at his home in Ontario. He was 77 years of age.R.I.P. Stompin’ Tom. You made us all want to storm the crease. Like bumblebees.
Stompin’ Tom literally put Canada on the map with such songs as “The Hockey Song”, “Sudbury Saturday Night”, “Bud The Spud”, “Tillsonburg”, "Big Joe Mufferaw" and countless others.
Born Thomas Charles Connors in Saint John New Brunswick on February 9th 1936, he was separated from his mother at a young age and raised by foster parents in Skinners Pond, P.E.I. until he was 13 years old. His life of poverty, orphanages, hitchhiking and playing bars would eventually turn into a life of hit songs, national concert tours and fame in spite of a constant uphill battle to be recognized by the music industry in Canada. In 1979 in a fit of frustration and disappointment he returned all 6 of his Juno awards as a statement of personal protest against the Americanization of the Canadian Music Industry, a sentiment he continued to express to this day. In 1989 Tom signed with EMI Music Canada, teamed up with talent promoter Brian Edwards and returned to the stage where fans young and old embraced his music once again as he quickly became one of the biggest concert draws and sought after performers in the country.
Due to the unwavering love for promoting his home country, some of the many accolades he has received include becoming an Officer of the Order of Canada, his own Canadian postage stamp, he was invited by the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson to receive the Governor Generals Performing Arts Award, he was the recipient of both the Queens Gold and Diamond Jubilee Medals and he earned 3 honorary doctorate degrees (Saint Thomas University in Saint John New Brunswick; "Laws", University of Toronto; "Laws", and the University of P.E.I.; "Letters").
He now has an astounding 61 recorded albums, 10 of which have yet to be released to the public. His songs will continue to be made available worldwide and remain a legacy to his career, his life and his beloved country.
Tom is survived by his wife Lena, 2 sons, 2 daughters and several grandchildren.
The Celebration of Tom's life is being planned for Wednesday, March 13th in Peterborough, ON at 7pm at the Peterborough Memorial Centre and per his request, will be open to the public.
In lieu of flowers, the Connors family has asked that donations be made to your local food bank or homeless shelters, in memory of Stompin' Tom.