Ian Tyson

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Ian Tyson
Ian Tyson (4396806840).jpg
Tyson in 2010
Background information
Birth nameIan Dawson Tyson
Born(1933-09-25) 25 September 1933 (age 81)
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
OriginToronto, Ontario, Canada
GenresCountry, folk, Western, country-rock
OccupationsMusician, songwriter, producer, arranger
Years active1959–present
LabelsStony Plain, A&M
Associated actsIan & Sylvia, Great Speckled Bird
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Ian Tyson
Ian Tyson (4396806840).jpg
Tyson in 2010
Background information
Birth nameIan Dawson Tyson
Born(1933-09-25) 25 September 1933 (age 81)
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
OriginToronto, Ontario, Canada
GenresCountry, folk, Western, country-rock
OccupationsMusician, songwriter, producer, arranger
Years active1959–present
LabelsStony Plain, A&M
Associated actsIan & Sylvia, Great Speckled Bird

Ian Dawson Tyson CM, AOE (born 25 September 1933) is a Canadian singer-songwriter, best known for his song "Four Strong Winds". He was also one half of the duo Ian & Sylvia.


Tyson was born to British immigrants in Victoria in 1933, and grew up in Duncan B.C.[1] A rodeo rider in his late teens and early twenties, he took up the guitar while recovering from an injury he sustained in a fall. He has named fellow Canadian country artist Wilf Carter as a musical influence.[2] He made his singing debut at the Heidelberg Café in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1956 and played with a rock and roll band, "The Sensational Stripes." After graduation from the Vancouver School of Art in 1958, Tyson moved to Toronto, Ontario where he commenced a job as a commercial artist. There he performed in local clubs and in 1959 began to sing on occasion with Sylvia Fricker. By early 1959 Tyson and Fricker were performing part-time at the Village Corner as "Ian & Sylvia." The pair became a full-time musical act in 1961 and married four years later. In 1969, they formed and fronted the group The Great Speckled Bird. Residing in southern Alberta, Tyson toured all over the world.

In 1989 he was inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame.

From 1971 to 1975, he hosted a national television program, The Ian Tyson Show, on CTV, based on the 1970-71 season music show Nashville North, later titled Nashville Now.[3]

In 2005, CBC Radio One listeners chose his song "Four Strong Winds" as the greatest Canadian song of all time on the series 50 Tracks: The Canadian Version. There was strong momentum for him to be nominated the Greatest Canadian, but he fell short. He has been a strong influence on many Canadian artists, including Neil Young, who recorded "Four Strong Winds" for Comes a Time (1978). Johnny Cash would also record the same song for American V: A Hundred Highways (2006). Judy Collins recorded a version of his popular song, "Someday Soon", in 1968.

Bob Dylan and the Band recorded his song "One Single River" in Woodstock, NY in 1967. The recording can be found on the unreleased Genuine Basement Tapes, vol. I.[4]

Tyson performs during Queen Elizabeth II's 2005 Royal Visit in Edmonton

In 2006, Tyson sustained irreversible scarring to his vocal cords as a result of a concert at the Havelock Country Jamboree followed a year later by a virus contracted during a flight to Denver.[5] This resulted in a notable loss of the remarkable quality and range he was known for; he has self-described his new sound as "gravelly".[6] Notwithstanding, he released the album "From Yellowhead to Yellowstone and Other Love Stories" in 2008 to high critical praise. He was nominated for a 2009 Canadian Folk Music Awards for Solo Artist of the Year. The album includes a song about Canadian hockey broadcasting icon Don Cherry and the passing of his wife Rose, a rare Tyson cover written by Toronto songwriter Jay Aymar.

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Ian Tyson talks about The Long Trail on Bookbits radio.

In 2010, Tyson put out his memoir The Long Trail: My Life in the West.[7] Co-written with Calgary journalist Jeremy Klaszus, the book "alternates between autobiography and a broader study of [Tyson's] relationship to the 'West' — both as a fading reality and a cultural ideal."[8] CBC's Michael Enright said the book is like Tyson himself — "straightforward, unglazed and honest."[9]

Tyson has also written a book of young-adult fiction about his song "La Primera", called La Primera: The Story of Wild Mustangs.[10]


Tyson's first marriage, to Sylvia Fricker Tyson, ended in an amicable[11] divorce in 1975. Their son Clay (Clayton Dawson Tyson,[12] born 1966[13]) was also a musical performer, and then moved to a career modifying racing bikes.[14][15]

Ian Tyson married Twylla Dvorkin in 1986, and their daughter Adelita was born c. 1987.[14][16] Tyson's second marriage ended in divorce which was made official in early 2008, several years after separating from Dvorkin.[17][18]

Awards and recognition[edit]

Tyson with the 2011 Charles M. Russell Heritage Award

Tyson became a Member of the Order of Canada in October 1994, and was inducted into the Alberta Order of Excellence in 2006.[19][20] In 2003, Tyson received a Governor General's Performing Arts Award.[21]

Tribute recordings[edit]

A tribute CD to Ian Tyson, The Gift, was released in 2007 on Stony Plain Records featuring "Someday Soon" done by Doug Andrew with Buddy Cage on pedal steel guitar (Buddy played in Great Speckled Bird), "Four Strong Winds" recorded by Blue Rodeo, plus another 13 of Tyson's best known songs done by major folk and country artists. The album is titled after a song of Tyson's, which itself is a tribute to Charles M. Russell.



YearTitleChart PositionsCRIA
CAN CountryCAN
1973Ol' Eon81
1978One Jump Ahead of the Devil
1983Old Corrals and Sagebrush
1984Ian Tyson
1989I Outgrew the Wagon1274Gold
1991And Stood There Amazed16
1994Eighteen Inches of Rain9
1996All the Good 'Uns21Gold
1999Lost Herd
2002Live at Longview
2005Songs from the Gravel Road
2008Yellowhead to Yellowstone and Other Love Stories
2011Songs from the Stone House
2012Raven Singer
2013All the Good 'Uns Vol. 2


YearTitlePeak positionsAlbum
1973"Love Can Bless the Soul of Anyone"[A]46Ol' Eon
1974"Great Canadian Tour"13
"She's My Greatest Blessing"
"Some Kind of Fool"
1979"Half a Mile of Hell"26One Jump Ahead of the Devil
1980"The Moondancer"19Non-album single
1983"Alberta's Child"Old Corrals and Sagebrush
1984"Oklahoma Hills"40Ian Tyson
1987"Cowboy Pride"9Cowboyography
"The Gift"17
1988"Fifty Years Ago"8
1989"Irving Berlin (Is 100 Yrs Old Today)"24I Outgrew the Wagon
"Cowboys Don't Cry"25
"Adelita Rose"23
1990"Casey Tibbs"29
"Since the Rain"17
"I Outgrew the Wagon"33
1991"Springtime in Alberta"9And Stood There Amazed
"Black Nights"35
1992"Lights of Laramie"9
"You're Not Alone Anymore"47
1993"Jaquima to Freno"30
1994"Alcohol In the Bloodstream"11Eighteen Inches of Rain
"Eighteen Inches of Rain"27
"Heartaches Are Stealin'"39
1995"Horsethief Moon"68
1996"Barrel Racing Angel"35All the Good 'uns
1997"The Wonder of It All"
1999"Brahmas and Mustangs"Lost Herd
2005"Land of Shining Mountains"Songs from the Gravel Road
"This Is My Sky"
2006"Always Saying Goodbye"
"—" denotes releases that did not chart
  • A ^ "Love Can Bless the Soul of Anyone" peaked at number 61 on the RPM Top Singles chart in Canada.


1971–1974Ian Tyson ShowCTV network
2010Songs From the Gravel RoadBravo! Network documentary
2010Mano A ManoDVD w/Tom Russell
2010This is My SkyDVD set


  1. ^ Kolya Witko (Fall–Winter 2009). "Ian Tyson: The many faces of a Canadian icon". Alternativetrends.com. Retrieved 2011-03-05. 
  2. ^ "Ian's 1st Solo Album Marks Return To Country Roots", Billboard, 23 November 1974, p.66
  3. ^ Wedge, Pip (February 2003). "Ian Tyson Show". Canadian Communications Foundation. Retrieved 2009-07-01. 
  4. ^ Heylin, Clinton (1995). Bob Dylan: The Recording Sessions 1960-1994. St. Martin's Griffin. p. 55. ISBN 978-0312150679. [dead link]
  5. ^ "Ian Tyson's Brave New CD". Macleans. 2008-12-01. Retrieved 2011-03-05. 
  6. ^ "Ian Tyson". Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2011-03-05. 
  7. ^ Tyson, Ian; Klaszus, Jeremy (October 2010). The Long Trail: My Life in the West. Random House. ISBN 978-0-307-35935-3. 
  8. ^ Volmers, Eric (23 October 2010). "Truly Tyson". Calgary Herald. Retrieved 2010-11-01. 
  9. ^ Tyson, Ian (2010-10-24). Interview with Ian Tyson. Interview with Michael Enright. The Sunday Edition. CBC. Toronto. Retrieved 2010-11-01. 
  10. ^ Tyson, Ian (2009). La primera : the story of wild mustangs. Paintings by Adeline Halvorson. Toronto: Tundra Books. ISBN 978-0-88776-863-7. OCLC 226999077. 
  11. ^ Ian: "Silvia and I had parted, amicably, and I came out to Alberta..." in documentary "Songs from the Gravel Road". Bravo network. 2010. Retrieved 2012-02-11. 
  12. ^ "They're partners in life as well as in music, which must have its difficult moments like the prospect of having to sing with someone you were maybe not speaking to. But they certainly have made that work, what with that thing rolling around on the rug, young Clayton Dawson, herein and hereafter referred to as 'Mr. Spoons.'" From the jacket notes (by John Court) to Ian and Sylvia's LP "Lovin' Sound", MGM 4388, 1967. Quoted in Mudcat Forum by Dale Rose, 1999-04-16; accessed 2011-05-08.
  13. ^ "Clay Tyson". Living Legends Music. 2006–2008. Retrieved 2011-04-19. 
  14. ^ a b Lederman, Marsha (30 March 2009). "Tyson comes clean". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2009-07-01. 
  15. ^ "Biography (Ian Tyson)". NME. Retrieved 2009-07-01. 
  16. ^ Ingram, David (16 November 2000). "A true son of the west". Canada Now. CBC Television. Retrieved 2009-07-01. 
  17. ^ Johnson, Brian D. (24 November 2008). "The end of love and a famous voice". Retrieved 2009-07-01. 
  18. ^ Marchand, Philip (6 February 2006). "Recent Reviews". Toronto Star. 
  19. ^ "Order of Canada citation: Ian Tyson, C.M., A.O.E.". Governor General of Canada. Retrieved 2009-07-01. 
  20. ^ "Ian Tyson OC, D Litt (hon), LLD (hon)". Government of Alberta. Retrieved 2009-07-01. 
  21. ^ "Ian Tyson biography". Governor General's Performing Arts Awards Foundation. Retrieved 2013-11-25. 
  • "Tyson, Ian". Encyclopedia of Canadian Musicians. Historica Foundation of Canada. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 

External links[edit]