The Tragically Hip is a rock group, formed in Kingston, Ont, in 1983 by Bobby Baker (guitar), Gordon Downie (vocals), Johnny Fay (drums), Paul Langlois (guitar) and Gord Sinclair (bass). The Tragically Hip's name was inspired by a segment in ex-Monkee Michael Nesmith's children's video, Elephant Parts. After developing a hometown fan base with an independent mini-album, the group signed with MCA Records Canada in 1988. Up to Here (1989) featured top-10 rock radio singles "Blow at High Dough" and "New Orleans Is Sinking."
Road Apples (1991) established the Hip (as fans invariably call them) as Canada's top rock band; their raw, energetic meld of blues, rock and challenging lyrical content took shape in concert favourites such as "Little Bones,""Twist My Arm" and "Cordelia." Subsequent albums have included Fully Completely (1992), Day for Night (1994), Trouble at the Henhouse (1996), the concert recording Live Between Us (1997), Phantom Power (1998) and Music@Work (2000). Downie released a solo album, Coke Machine Glow, in 2001. The band made a cameo appearance as a curling squad in the Paul Gross-directed comedy Men with Brooms that same year. In Violet Light, produced by Hugh Padgham (Genesis, The Police), was released in 2002. A year later Downie released his second album, Battle of the Nudes.
While US success has proven to be elusive, the Tragically Hip has an exceptionally loyal audience in Canada. The Hip has toured routinely since its foundation, and helped pioneer the now commonplace "festival tour" concept with a series of Another Roadside Attraction national tours; over the years, these outings have involved the likes of Midnight Oil, SPIRIT OF THE WEST, Wilco, Blues Traveler and Hothouse Flowers. The group has staged numerous fundraising concerts for Camp Trillium, an Ontario recreation and support centre for children with cancer.
The Hip's version of Gordon LIGHTFOOT's "Black Day in July" was a highlight of the multi-artist recording Beautiful: A Tribute to Gordon Lightfoot (2003). The following spring, Canadian rock radio immediately hailed the return of the Hip in its most dynamic blues-rock guise by giving heavy airplay to "Vaccination Scar," an upbeat track in the classic Road Apples vein that featured driving slide guitar and a characteristically oblique lyric from Downie. Backed by the new management team of Steve Macklam and Sam Feldman (Norah Jones, Diana Krall), the group was poised for a fresh shot at international success with the album In Between Evolution; it was produced in Seattle by Adam Kasper (Nirvana, Pearl Jam) and released in Canada in 2004.
While the Hip have so far been unable to make commercial headway in foreign markets, their popularity in Canada was once more underlined by Hipeponymous, a greatest hits-plus-DVD package that became an immediate bestseller in 2005. The double-CD Yer Favourites portion of the set featured material selected by the band's fans, while the DVD captured a 2004 concert at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.
Noted Canadian producer Bob Rock (Metallica, OUR LADY PEACE) was behind the console for World Container. Released in 2006, it was a forceful return to basics that spun off the number-one Canadian single "In View" and earned the band a 2007 JUNO AWARD nomination as Group of the Year. The band launched their hometown's new downtown arena, the Kingston Regional Sports and Entertainment Centre (aka the K-Rock Centre), in 2008 with a career-spanning set highlighted by a guest appearance from long-time Hip fan DAN AYKROYD on harmonica. We Are The Same was released in 2009 and was nominated for rock album of the year at the 2010 Junos. It was followed by 2012's Now For Plan A, produced by Gavin Brown (Billy Talent, Metric and Sarah Harmer).