Music at Work: A Visual History of the Hip

32 Years of Art & Magic

Since they formed in 1984, the Tragically Hip have been hard at work creating a voice that is uniquely their own, and with it, one that speaks for a nation. In their 32 years as a band they’ve supported Canadian culture and piqued interest in a way few others could dream of, and there’s a trail of images to support it.

MCA Records & the Self-Titled Debut (1987)

The Hip got their big break one night back in the mid-80s when the then-MCA President Bruce Dickinson saw the band play the Horseshoe. They were signed to a long-term deal with the label and released their self-titled debut EP in 1987.

The band takes home a Juno for Canadian Entertainer of the Year (1991)

The Hip won their first JUNO Award for Most Promising Group of the Year in 1990. They would go on to win 13 more (and counting) in the following years, solidifying their Canadian superstar status.



(Photo: Cottage Life)

Following the release of fourth album Fully Completely in 1993, the Tragically Hip embarked on a new travelling music-and-arts endeavor they dubbed the Another Roadside Attraction festival. The first stop was Winnipeg Stadium in Winnipeg, Manitoba, featuring performances from the Hip, Daniel Lanois, Midnight Oil, Crash Vegas, and Hothouse Flowers, who also collaborated on the 1993 charity single, “Land” to protest forest clearcutting in BC. Future iterations of the festival toured in 1995 and 1997, featuring performances by acts like Eric’s Trip, Spirit of the West, Ron Sexsmith, and the Rheostatics.



Six months after releasing 1994’s Day for Night, in 1995 the Hip embarked on a follow-up tour that brought them through New York City for an appearance on Saturday Night Live, where they performed album singles “Grace, Too” and “Nautical Disaster.” While the album debuted at number one on Canadian Charts, the band was still relatively unknown south of the border, and cast member and fellow Kingston, ON native Dan Ackroyd, had to fight to land them the appearance. And (even though John Goodman hosted the episode) he introduced them, too.



Lacking proper security, adequate supply of water and toilet maintenance, Woodstock ’99 was for the most part, a disgusting, dangerous festival disaster, but the Hip’s set on the East Stage brought out a proud contingent of Canadian support waving flags all across the mudpit in front of the Rome, NY stage.



(Photo: The Toronto Star)

The 2000s brought the Hip a wave of awards and accolades that recognized the band for its contributions to the national culture. In 2002 they were inducted to Canada’s Walk of Fame with a “star” (a stylized maple leaf) along its path in Toronto in 2002; in 2005 they were inducted to the Canadian Music Hall of Fame at the Juno Awards in Winnipeg in 2006 the were presented an honorary Royal Conservatory of Music fellowship at the Windsor Arms Hotel in Toronto; and in 2008 they received a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award in Ottawa, ON.



(Photo: David Bastedo for The Tragically Hip on Facebook)

Talk about Pedestrian Sundays. On Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012, the Hip surprised fans by tweeting about a surprise appearance that would take place at Kensington Market bar/restaurant Supermarket just an hour and a half later. It didn’t take long for news to circulate, and when the magic hour struck, the band mounted a makeshift stage to play a three-song set to an approximately 300-person crowd. They followed suit with an additional three-song set every hour throughout the afternoon and early evening (usually, two new songs and one classic), hawking physical copies of their soon to be commercially released Now for Plan A record in between. They followed the appearance with a residency/pop-up shop that returned to that formula every day until Oct. 3, culminating in a special hour-long set on the album’s proper release date that was also live streamed on their website.



In 2013, Canada Post released a series of postage stamps that honoured legacy rock acts like the Tragically Hip as well as Rush, the Guess Who, and Beau Dommage. The Hip’s stamp features the band’s name superimposed over the bottom left corner of a black and white photo of the band standing in front of a tour bus.

Honorary Degrees from Queen’s Univeristy (May 19, 2016)


(Photo: The Tragically Hip on Instagram)

On May 19, 2016, the Tragically Hip were granted honorary degrees from Queen’s University in their native Kingston, ON, and Hip guitarist Gord Sinclair delivered a speech to the graduating class. Gord Downie was not in attendance, and five days later, the band announced he had been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and that they would embark on a tour behind their approaching Man Machine Poem album.

Man Machine Poem Tour (2016)


(Photo: The Tragically Hip on Instagram)

After announcing their new record, Man Machine Poem, the Tragically Hip followed up with a devastating announcement. The news that Gord Downie was suffering from terminal brain cancer shocked Canadians and the music world to the core. What came next was the announcement of a Canadian tour that has become a farewell tour to celebrate one Canada’s most treasured artists.


(Photo: The Tragically Hip on Facebook)

Beginning in July in Victoria, BC the Canadian tour finishes off in Kingston on August 20th and will act as a prolonged, gut-wrenching goodbye for friends, family, and music lovers of all ages.

Tour Dates:
July 22 – Victoria, BC
July 24 – Vancouver, BC
July 28 – Edmonton, AB
August 1 – Calgary, AB
August 5 – Winnipeg, MB
August 8 – London, ON
August 10 – Toronto, ON
August 12 – Toronto, ON
August 16 – Hamilton, ON
August 18 – Ottawa, ON
August 20 – Kingston, ON


(Photo: The Tragically Hip on Instagram)

When Indie88 chatted with artists at the Wayhome Festival in July we asked them their favourite Tragically Hip Song and they had some great stories to share.

What's Your Favourite Tragically Hip Song ft. Wolf Parade

"Every time I hear that song, I get a little choked up" – Dan Boeckner of Wolf Parade on "Ahead By A Century". Have a favourite The Tragically Hip song? Share your thoughts below.

Posted by Indie88Toronto on Monday, August 8, 2016

What's Your Favourite Tragically Hip Song ft. Stars

Torquil Campbell of Stars talks about "My Music at Work" and why Gord Downie of The Tragically Hip is one of the greatest performers of all time. What's your favourite Hip song?

Posted by Indie88Toronto on Thursday, August 4, 2016

What's Your Favourite Tragically Hip Song ft. Arkells

Let Max from Arkells tell you why "Courage" is one of the greatest The Tragically Hip songs.

Posted by Indie88Toronto on Wednesday, August 10, 2016