How Did Gordon Lightfoot Die? The Death of a Canadian Folk Legend

how did gordon lightfoot die
Santa Rosa, CA/USA - 3/6/19: Gordon Lightfoot (front and center) performs at the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts. A Canadian singer-songwriter in folk, folk-rock, and country music. Image from Shutterstock.

Last updated on June 3rd, 2023 at 11:44 pm

Gordon Lightfoot was a songwriting legend most well-known for his work in the folk, folk-rock, and country genres. Gordon wrote songs for other artists as well.

Unfortunately, the Canadian star is no longer with us. How did Gordon Lightfoot Die? Read on to learn all about the life and death of this famous musician who was known for his timeless songs about love and loneliness.

When Did Gordon Lightfoot Die?

Gordon Lightfoot died on May 1st, 2023, in Toronto, Canada, after canceling the remainder of his 2023 tour due to his declining health.

How Did Gordon Lightfoot Die?

The coroner found that the cause of death of Gordon Lightfoot was natural causes. It is unlikely that there will be an autopsy because of Gordon’s advanced age.

Who Found Gordon Lightfoot?

Gordon Lightfoot died at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center where he was receiving care for health related issues. It is assumed that a nurse or other physician found the singer after he passed.

gordon lightfoot
CANADA – CIRCA 2007: a postage stamp printed in Canada showing an image of Gordon Lightfoot, circa 2007. Image from Shutterstock.

What Happened to Gordon Lightfoot?

Gordon Lightfoot, unlike many other musicians, remained somewhat healthy throughout his life. Although he canceled the remainder of his 2023 tour due to health issues, these were issues caused by old age rather than some disease.

It is even reported that Gordon would work out six times a week, even as he made his way into his 80s. Gordon announced in 2012, when he was 73, that he was ready to die at any time. Little did he know that he would live to see another decade before passing away.

That being said, Gordon did undergo surgery in 2002 due to a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm. He even went into a coma for six weeks and it was unknown if he would survive.

Despite this setback, Gordon resumed touring in 2003 and even signed new recording deals. He later suffered a stroke in 2006 but recovered fully. Therefore, it’s safe to say that this condition wasn’t the cause of his death.

How Old Was Gordon Lightfoot When He Died?

Gordon Lightfoot was born on November 17, 1938, making him 84 years old when he died. He lived a full and long life, especially for a musician.

How Old Was Gordon Lightfoot at His Peak?

It’s hard to say how old Gordon was at his peak, considering he was still touring until a month before his death. His career spanned a total of 65 years, beginning in 1958 and ending at his death.

We can’t really say when he peaked, as Gordon published his first album in 1966 and his last in 2020. However, he published the bulk of his albums in the 1970s and 1980s, which would put him in his 30s and 40s during his peak.

How Did Gordon Lightfoot Get Famous?

As a young boy, Gordon began singing in his church choir and at school, but at the time, a career in music seemed far away, even though he learned to play guitar and piano and began writing his own songs.  

Then in the 1950s Gordon set out in Los Angeles to study music and ended up writing commercial jingles for different companies.

He quickly tired of LA and returned to Toronto to perform in various coffee houses around Canada, eventually making a name for himself to the point where he was able to record his debut album in 1962 at age 24.

His fame continued to increase through the 1960s, hitting a peak in the 70s and 1980s as listeners all over the world fell in love with the ballads and folk songs produced by the talented guitarist.

Throughout his career, he won many Grammy Awards and was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. His most popular songs (most of which were Billboard hits) were “If You Could Read My Mind,” “Early Morning Rain,” “Sundown,” “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” and “Carefree Highway.”

While he may have started out writing folk music, by the time of his death he had made his way into the pop genre.

Was Gordon Lightfoot Rich When He Was Alive?

Gordon Lightfoot was worth about $40 million when he passed away. While this isn’t as rich as some of the other singers he wrote songs for (such as Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Barbara Streisand) this is still a nice chunk of change and we do consider him to have been rich when he was alive.

Related: 32 Interesting Facts About Elvis Presley

What Were Gordon Lightfoot’s Last Words?

It is currently unknown what the singer’s last words were.

Gordon Lightfoot’s Funeral

As of May 3rd, 2023, Gordon Lightfoot’s funeral has not yet been announced though many great singers such as Bryan Adams and Bob Dylan are expected to make an appearance as they were avid fans of the folk singer.

Where is Gordon Lightfoot Buried?

Gordon Lightfoot is not yet buried. It is also not sure whether the singer will be buried or cremated. While he attended a Christian church as a child, it is unclear if he maintained the faith in his old age.

gordon lightfoot
Santa Rosa, CA/USA – 3/6/19: Gordon Lightfoot (front and center) performs at the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts. A Canadian singer-songwriter in folk, folk-rock, and country music. Image from Shutterstock.

Gordon Lightfoot’s Estate

Gordon Lightfoot is survived by his wife Kim Hasse, who has played minor roles in television over the years. She is currently in her 60s. He is also survived by his many children Fred, Ingrid, Gaylen, Eric, Miles, and Meredith.

It is assumed that much of his estate will go to his current wife and children. Lightfoot does also have two ex-wives, as well as ex-girlfriends who fathered some of his children who may receive a portion of his estate.

Gordon Lightfoot’s estate includes the rights to his many songs and albums, his Toronto mansion where rapper Drake is reportedly a neighbor, which is worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $15-$20 million, and likely some of the instruments he played on stage.

Final Thoughts

Celebrity deaths are never easy to handle, even when they reach old age as Gordon Lightfoot did.

Whether you knew of Canadian singer Gordon Lightfoot or not, you have most certainly heard some of his songs over the years. Gordon Lightfoot was truly one of the greatest and most influential musicians of our time and he will be sorely missed.

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Written by Hope Davis

Long-time music lover Hope became a full-time writer in 2020 after being laid off from her regular job due to COVID-19. She now spends her time traveling the world to see her favorite bands while writing about them!


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