Members of the last band to tour with Stompin' Tom Connors before he died took some time Thursday to remember the iconic singer/songwriter.
Calgary folk-country singer Tim Hus, along with members of his Travelin' Band, were the last to hit the road with Connors in a series of tours across Canada in 2009 and 2010.
"There isn't a Canadian who hasn't heard of Stompin' Tom or ‘The Hockey Song’ and know how proud he is of this land and all that he stands for. I don't think that there has ever been a country performer in Canada who has won over the hearts of the people the way that Tom has," Hus wrote on his blog in August of 2010, while touring with Connors.
Hus, who often plays Connors' songs during his own performances around Alberta and B.C., remembers the music legend as a grassroots guy who never asked for much.
"He was pretty simple -- a plain, down-to-earth guy," Hus said in an interview with CBC Calgary.
Hus recalls a time, when performing with Connors in Ottawa, the staff at the venue panicked because they hadn't received a rider (a set of requests a performer sets as criteria for performing) from Connors.
The staff had only received a fax with a bare-bones request -- that two cases of Moosehead beer be waiting backstage.
"Well, you got my rider," Connors told the staff.
"'We've never seen anyone that can play a stadium whose requirements were two cases of Moosehead beer,'" Hus recalls the stunned staff saying.
“He didn’t need any money, I mean he didn’t even spend any money. All he did was buy cigarettes and beer, that’s what he lived on — so, like $10,000 a year, or less,” Hus joked with the Calgary Herald.
“I guess beer’s cheap if you buy it in bulk, right?"
Billy MacInnis, once a fiddler for Connors, who now tours with Hus, told the P.E.I. Guardian he had goosebumps the first time he ever took the stage with Connors.
And despite traveling extensively, MacInnis said Connors never forgot his roots.
“His heart was really on Prince Edward Island. Even though he left at quite a young age, he let everybody know he was from Skinners Pond, P.E.I.”
Hus told the CBC the loss of his friend and mentor is a tough blow.
"It's sad news, right? My musical hero has died. But he lived his life on his own terms, which many people don't get to do."
His legacy as "Canada's Johnny Cash" will live on, both in his music and in the hearts of his fans, Hus told the Herald.
“All of the great ones, your Hank Williamses, your Bob Dylans, they all had that, where their actual technical musical abilities are almost secondary, and they almost seemed to be able to score a direct hit on your heart or your soul or whatever it is."
“You just get the fact that he’s an honest guy doing his thing.”
Connors died Wednesday at the age of 77. He is survived by his wife Lena, two sons, two daughters and several grandchildren.
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