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Big names in music among those invited to Ian Tyson memorial

The memory of a Canadian music legend will live on at a Foothills venue that he knew so well.

Renowned singer and songwriter Ian Tyson wowed audiences over the years and now the music legend’s memory will live on at one of his favourite places to play.

East Longview Hall in Foothills County was chosen as the site for a permanent memorial in Tyson’s honour. It was unveiled during a private ceremony on July 4, with members of Tyson’s family and about 100 friends and music industry associates in attendance.

The memorial, on the building’s north side, includes a plaque and a mural of Tyson strumming a guitar. Tyson died at his Longview-area ranch on Dec. 29, 2022, at the age of 89.

Adelita Tyson Bell, Tyson’s daughter, said the hall is a fitting location for the tribute.

“Dad played concerts here for over 20 years,” Tyson Bell said. “It was his favourite venue to perform at and if you ever attended one of the concerts, you know how special they were.”

The mural was painted by Longview artist Matts Zoumer who included some Ian Tyson trademarks in the painting.

“We had to make sure he had his purple shirt on and his wild rag, and then he’s got his pal, the magpie, in it, too,” Tyson Bell said.

Veteran musicians in attendance at the ceremony included Corb Lund, Jeff Bradshaw, Myran Szott and Julian Kerr, who have all played with Tyson over the years.

After the unveiling, remarks were made by Tyson’s longtime friends, John Scott, Neil MacGonigill and Delilah Miller.

MacGonigill would become Tyson’s manager after the two met in 1977.

“In my estimation, he was the greatest songwriter this country’s ever produced,” he said.

Miller said she got to know Tyson through the East Longview Hall concerts.

People travelled far and wide to see Tyson play at the hall, Miller said.

“People came from all over the world because of his personal interaction and this picturesque venue,” she said.

Over his five-decade career, Tyson picked up dozens of awards and honours, including a 2008 induction into the Western Music Hall of Fame, an Alberta Order of Excellence and, in 2010, the inaugural C.M. Russell Heritage Award.

He was inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame in 1987 and, in 2005, Four Strong Winds was named the greatest Canadian Song of all time by CBC Radio One listeners on the series 50 Tracks: The Canadian Version.

"He was proud of what he did,” MacGonigill said. “We were lucky to have him.”

The memorial is open to the public and is in the foothills that the late singer called home.

“We hope everyone here, and everyone in the community, enjoys this mural for years to come,” Tyson Bell said.

Robert Korotyszyn

About the Author: Robert Korotyszyn

Robert Korotyszyn covers Okotoks and Foothills County news for and the Western Wheel newspaper. For story tips contact [email protected]
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