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Ian Tyson

About Ian Tyson

Ian Dawson Tyson (25 September 1933 – ) was born in Victoria, British Columbia and is a Canadian singer and songwriter. He’s best known as part of the folk duo, Ian & Sylvia. The two married, but it ended in an acrimonious divorce.

Tyson went on to a successful solo career in country and western cowboy music in the 1970s, and he’s released more than a dozen albums since. He lives on a ranch near Calgary, Alberta now, but continues to perform publicly.

Tyson grew up on Vancouver Island and became a rodeo rider before he took up music. He started in music by playing in a rockabilly band called the Sensational Stripes on a bill with Buddy Holly and Gene Vincent. Tyson said Buddy Holly was a big influence on him. That happened in 1956, he said, and he was on the bill only because the musicians’ local union required a local band be on the bill.

Tyson said he was snake-bit by the experience and immediately left for California. He met Sylvia Fricker when he moved from California to Toronto in 1959. They became the duo, Ian & Sylvia. The folk scene was big in Toronto by the late 50s and there were coffee houses everywhere.

Although into his 80’s now, Tyson is still filled with youthful enthusiasm for music. His newest influencer is Mark Knopfler. Tyson said he saw him in concert in 2012 and was laid out in lavender:

“I’m a huge Mark Knopfler fan [now]. He’s as good as [they] get. He has so much respect and love for the Celtic traditions. That’s where my music comes from. The Celtic songs from the Scots and the Irish got distilled down into cowboy songs.”

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