Ian Tyson

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Ian Tyson
Ian Tyson (4396806840).jpg
Tyson in 2010
Background information
Birth name Ian Dawson Tyson
Born (1933-09-25) 25 September 1933 (age 86)
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Origin Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Genres Country, folk, Western, country rock
Occupation(s) Musician, songwriter, producer, arranger
Years active 1959–present
Labels Stony Plain, A&M
Associated acts Ian & Sylvia, Great Speckled Bird
Website iantyson.com

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.

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]

As of 1980, Tyson became associated with Calgary music manager and producer Neil MacGonigill. Tyson decided to concentrate on country and cowboy music, resulting in the well-received 1983 album, Old Corrals and Sagebrush,[4] released on Columbia Records.

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

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.[5]

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.[6] 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".[7] 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.

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.[8] 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."[9] CBC's Michael Enright said the book is like Tyson himself – "straightforward, unglazed and honest."[10]

Tyson has also written a book of young-adult fiction about his song "La Primera", called La Primera: The Story of Wild Mustangs.[11]


Tyson's first marriage, to Sylvia Fricker Tyson, ended in an amicable[12] divorce in 1975. Their son Clay (Clayton Dawson Tyson,[13] born 1966[14]) was also a musical performer, and then moved to a career modifying racing bikes.[15][16]

Ian Tyson married Twylla Dvorkin in 1986, and their daughter Adelita was born c. 1987.[15][17] Tyson's second marriage ended in divorce which was made official in early 2008, several years after separating from Dvorkin.[18][19]

Awards and recognition

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.[20][21] In 2003, Tyson received a Governor General's Performing Arts Award.[22]

Tribute recordings

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.



The 1987 album Cowboyography contained two songs that were later chosen by the Western Writers of America as among the Top 100 Western Songs of all time: "Navajo Rug" and "Summer Wages".[23]

Year Title Chart Positions CRIA
CAN Country CAN
1973 Ol' Eon 81
1978 One Jump Ahead of the Devil
1983 Old Corrals and Sagebrush
1984 Ian Tyson
1987 Cowboyography Platinum
1989 I Outgrew the Wagon 12 74 Gold
1991 And Stood There Amazed 16
1994 Eighteen Inches of Rain 9
1996 All the Good 'Uns 21 Gold
1999 Lost Herd
2002 Live at Longview
2005 Songs from the Gravel Road
2008 Yellowhead to Yellowstone and Other Love Stories
2011 Songs from the Stone House
2012 Raven Singer
2013 All the Good 'Uns Vol. 2
2015 Carnero Vaquero


Year Title Peak positions Album
CAN Country CAN AC
1973 "Love Can Bless the Soul of Anyone"[A] 46 Ol' Eon
1974 "Great Canadian Tour" 13
"She's My Greatest Blessing"
"Some Kind of Fool"
1979 "Half a Mile of Hell" 26 One Jump Ahead of the Devil
1980 "The Moondancer" 19 Non-album single
1983 "Alberta's Child" Old Corrals and Sagebrush
1984 "Oklahoma Hills" 40 Ian Tyson
1987 "Cowboy Pride" 9 Cowboyography
"The Gift" 17
1988 "Fifty Years Ago" 8
1989 "Irving Berlin (Is 100 Yrs Old Today)" 24 I 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" 9 And Stood There Amazed
"Black Nights" 35
1992 "Lights of Laramie" 9
"Magpie" 43
"You're Not Alone Anymore" 47
1993 "Jaquima to Freno" 30
1994 "Alcohol in the Bloodstream" 11 Eighteen Inches of Rain
"Eighteen Inches of Rain" 27
"Heartaches Are Stealin'" 39
1995 "Horsethief Moon" 68
1996 "Barrel Racing Angel" 35 All 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.


Year Title Notes
1971–1974 Ian Tyson Show CTV network
2010 Songs From the Gravel Road Bravo! Network documentary
2010 Mano A Mano DVD w/Tom Russell
2010 This is My Sky DVD set


  1. Kolya Witko (Fall–Winter 2009). "Ian Tyson: The many faces of a Canadian icon". Alternativetrends.com. Retrieved 2011-03-05.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Heath McCoy, Field of dreamers. Calgary Herald via Canada.com, June 19, 2007. Retrieved 2015-04-03.
  5. Heylin, Clinton (1995). Bob Dylan: The Recording Sessions 1960–1994. St. Martin's Griffin. p. 55. ISBN 978-0312150679. Archived from the original on 21 January 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Ian Tyson's Brave New CD". Macleans. 1 December 2008. Retrieved 2011-03-05.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Ian Tyson". Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2011-03-05.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Tyson, Ian; Klaszus, Jeremy (October 2010). The Long Trail: My Life in the West. Random House. ISBN 978-0-307-35935-3.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Volmers, Eric (23 October 2010). "Truly Tyson". Calgary Herald. Retrieved 2010-11-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Tyson, Ian (24 October 2010). "Interview with Ian Tyson" (Interview). Interviewed by Michael Enright. Retrieved 2010-11-01. Unknown parameter |city= ignored (help); Unknown parameter |program= ignored (help); Unknown parameter |callsign= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).
  12. 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "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.
  14. "Clay Tyson". Living Legends Music. 2006–2008. Retrieved 2011-04-19.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. 15.0 15.1 Lederman, Marsha (30 March 2009). "Tyson comes clean". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2009-07-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Biography (Ian Tyson)". NME. Retrieved 2009-07-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Ingram, David (16 November 2000). "A true son of the west". Canada Now. CBC Television. Retrieved 2009-07-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. Johnson, Brian D. (24 November 2008). "The end of love and a famous voice". Retrieved 2009-07-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. Marchand, Philip (6 February 2006). "Recent Reviews". Toronto Star.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. "Order of Canada citation: Ian Tyson, C.M., A.O.E." Governor General of Canada. Retrieved 2009-07-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. "Ian Tyson OC, D Litt (hon), LLD (hon)". Government of Alberta. Retrieved 2009-07-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. "Ian Tyson biography". Governor General's Performing Arts Awards Foundation. Retrieved 2013-11-25.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. Western Writers of America (2010). "The Top 100 Western Songs". American Cowboy. Archived from the original on 10 August 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • "Tyson, Ian". Encyclopedia of Canadian Musicians. Historica Foundation of Canada. Retrieved 2009-07-15.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links