Full statement from the Downie family:

Last night Gord quietly passed away with his beloved children and family close by.

Gord knew this day was coming – his response was to spend this precious time as he always had – making music, making memories and expressing deep gratitude to his family and friends for a life well lived, often sealing it with a kiss… on the lips.

Gord said he had lived many lives. As a musician, he lived “the life” for over 30 years, lucky to do most of it with his high school buddies. At home, he worked just as tirelessly at being a good father, son, brother, husband and friend. No one worked harder on every part of their life than Gord. No one.

We would like to thank all the kind folks at KGH and Sunnybrook, Gord’s bandmates, management team, friends and fans. Thank you for all the help and support over the past two years.

Thank you everyone for all the respect, admiration and love you have given Gord throughout the years – those tender offerings touched his heart and he takes them with him now as he walks among the stars.

Love you forever Gord.

The Downie Family


I post this with a broken heart. Rest in peace, Gord and thank you.

Tragically Hip’s Gord Downie dead at 53

Gord Downie, the Tragically Hip frontman who united a diverse array of music lovers with his commanding stage presence and Canadiana-laced lyrics, has died.

He was 53.

Downie had an aggressive and incurable form of brain cancer called glioblastoma, which he discovered after a seizure in December 2015.

He died Tuesday night surrounded by his children and family, according to a statement on the band’s website.

“Gord knew this day was coming – his response was to spend this precious time as he always had – making music, making memories and expressing deep gratitude to his family and friends for a life well lived, often sealing it with a kiss… on the lips,” the statement said.

Canadians learned of Downie’s illness on May 24 last year — the same day the rest of the rock group, Paul Langlois, Rob Baker, Gord Sinclair and Johnny Fay, announced that the Kingston, Ont.-based band would head out on a final summer tour “for Gord, and for all of us.”

The 15-show Man Machine Poem tour, especially its final concert, became a cultural event, as Downie’s dire prognosis prompted an outpouring of support from people across the country who had the rare opportunity to celebrate a much-loved Canadian before he was gone.

As the Tragically Hip’s lead singer and lyricist, Downie was the face and voice of a band whose discography sold more than eight million copies. The band’s propulsive, muscular rock, coupled with intense live performances and Downie’s cryptic, literary lyrics, allowed the band to attract a diverse fan base that included party animals and armchair philosophers alike.

Downie contained similar complexities: He was an everyman poet, seeming both aloof and down to earth, writing lyrics that rhymed “catharsis” with “my arse is.” He sang about Canada, but disavowed nationalism, his songs exploring heavy topics like David Milgaard’s wrongful conviction (Wheat Kings) or Canada’s treatment of First Nations (Now the Struggle Has a Name).

Downie spent his final months speaking out in support of Indigenous people, declaring: “Canada is not Canada. We are not the country we think we are.”

After his final appearances with the Tragically Hip, Downie released Secret Path, a multimedia project that tells the tragic tale of 12-year-old Chanie Wenjack, who died of exposure and hunger in 1966 after running away from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School in Kenora, Ont. Meanwhile, the Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund was started to “start a new relationship with Indigenous Peoples.”

Downie, who won two Junos for the 10-song solo album, thought of the Secret Path music, concerts and film created with artist Jeff Lemire as his legacy project. Lemire created a graphic novel inspired by Downie’s songs, and its images were used to create the film.

Over the course of his career, Downie released three other musically adventurous solo albums, a collaboration with Toronto roots-rock band the Sadies, and a book of poetry. Earlier this fall, Downie announced he had been working on another solo album, Introduce Yerself. The 23-song double album is due out Oct. 27, 2017, and is expected to be released posthumously by the Canadian label Arts & Crafts.

Though he wasn’t afraid to go it alone as a solo artist, Downie’s legacy will always be tied most closely with the Tragically Hip.

The Hip, as they’re often called, won 16 Juno awards (the most of any band) and received a raft of other honours, including the Order of Canada. The group also has a Canadian Music Hall of Fame induction, a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award, an honorary fellowship with the Royal Conservatory of Music and a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame. The band even has its own postage stamp and a street named after it, Tragically Hip Way, in Kingston, Ont.

Gordon Edgar Downie was born in Kingston on Feb. 6, 1964, and spent his formative years in nearby Amherstview.

His godfather was future Boston Bruins coach and general manager Harry Sinden, and Downie enjoyed the national pastime as both a die-hard Bruins fan and a goalie who took his B-level team to a provincial championship.

Downie said growing up on the shores of Lake Ontario had an impact on the way he viewed the environment, which led him to support the Lake Ontario Waterkeeper as a board member and to pay for renewable energy at his Toronto home.

But music was his first love. He listened to everything he could in his older sister’s 45 collection, and used his allowance to buy records. He eventually joined a band that did punk covers, and was in a group called the Filters.

The Tragically Hip formed in 1983 at Queen’s University, named after a sketch in former Monkees member Michael Nesmith’s long-form music video “Elephant Parts,” and were soon playing the Kingston bar scene.

Word of mouth about the band spread throughout Kingston and eventually to Toronto.

Musician manager Jake Gold, who along with Allan Gregg gave the Hip members their first shot, told the authors of the book Have Not Been The Same: The CanRock Renaissance 1985-95, about the Toronto show that won them and an ambivalent crowd over.

Downie “was a great communicator,” Gold said. “The first time we heard him open his mouth, we just went, holy shit. At the end of their set that night, the whole place stood up and clapped and it was undeniable if you were in the room that night that this was something special.”

Throughout his career, Downie was spastic and seemingly unfiltered on stage. He usually started with a “Hello,” and often ended with a variation on “Good night, music lovers,” but what would happen in between was anyone’s guess. He delivered frenetic dance moves or stream-of-consciousness rants in ways that suggested he was channelling the music.

“I think my body’s giving subtext and with my voice I’ll give you the confines of my heart, which is illegible,” he told CBC in 1999.

Working with Gold and Gregg, the Hip signed a record deal with MCA that led to an eponymous 1987 EP, but the band didn’t start to become a household name until 1989’s Up to Here, which included the hits Blow at High Dough and New Orleans is Sinking, both of which still get heavy play on Canadian radio.

The band won its first Juno (Most Promising Group) on the strength of that album and solidified its hold on the Canadian music scene with the next three albums: 1991’s Road Apples, 1992’s Fully Completely and 1994’s Day for Night, all of which went multi-platinum or diamond.

The band was big enough in the mid-’90s to organize Another Roadside Attraction, a travelling music and arts festival that included a mix of Canadian acts (Rheostatics, Eric’s Trip) and international stars (Midnight Oil, Wilco) all hand-picked by the band.

In 1995, a particularly successful year for the Hip, the band opened for both Page and Plant and the Rolling Stones, and performed on Saturday Night Live.

Yet, with the exception of certain, mostly border cities in the U.S. and pockets of support in western Europe, the Hip rarely made an impact outside Canada, continuing to play smaller venues like the House of Blues stateside while they sold out hockey arenas north of the border.

Downie dismissed questions about why the band didn’t break big in the U.S., telling CBC that he felt successful after the band’s first practice. By 2004, he’d clearly grown tired of the question. “Who are you comparing us to?” he asked an interviewer from the Toronto Sun. “The Barenaked Ladies? Our music is entirely different. Nickelback? Avril?”

The band never reached the same sales figures it did with its first four full-length albums, but continued to make music that was generally well-received by critics and selling at platinum or multi-platinum levels.

Then came Downie’s diagnosis, which created a wave of nostalgia and celebration even as people prepared for his passing.

The Hip’s final tour launched in Victoria in late July 2016, stopping in eight other Canadian cities, before wrapping up in front of an emotionally charged crowd in the band’s hometown of Kingston about a month later.

Each night, Downie took to the stage dressed in metallic leather suits and feather-adorned hats, performing hits from the Tragically Hip’s entire discography. Aided by teleprompters showing the lyrics, Downie pranced about the stage with his signature theatrical dance moves, though less kinetically than in the past. Fans would often tear up at newly poignant lyrics written decades ago: “No dress rehearsal / This is our life” in Ahead by a Century and “I’ve got to go / It’s been a pleasure doing business with you” in Scared.

He saved a special energy for Kingston, playing a near three-hour set that was at once jubilant, raucous and heart-wrenching. In front of an intimate crowd of 6,700 inside Kingston’s K-Rock Centre, including Trudeau, Downie thanked the audience “for keeping me pushing” and used the opportunity to call for action on Indigenous issues.

Another 11.7 million watched a CBC broadcast of the concert, with hundreds of viewing parties held in public parks, squares, movie theatres, bars and restaurants across Canada.

After the final cross-country tour, all 17 Hip recordings (including box sets and live concerts) were back on the Billboard Canadian Albums chart as sales and downloads skyrocketed. Their most recent album, Man Machine Poem, hit No. 1.

If anything, the Hip’s lack of success in the U.S. has only made Canadians more protective of them. CBC broadcaster and musician Tom Power called them “Canada’s local band.” He also called Downie “the greatest frontman this country has ever produced.”

Downie never sought to be iconic. He called concert touring “grunt work,” and talked about building the fan base one person at a time. He said he told Canadian stories because they were there to be told, and said he performed music because it was the ultimate medium for expressions of love.

“Rock ‘n’ roll is not unlike love,” he told music writer Michael Barclay in 2000. “You find it oddly strangely comforting that no matter how old you get, when it comes to matters of the heart, you’re always 15 inside. I know an 85-year-old with boy trouble. That’s a strange and comforting thing to me. As we move towards resolution and understanding and greater serenity in all aspects of our life, love’s pretty elemental and that’s nice to know. I think rock ‘n’ roll is the same. I don’t pretend to understand it; it feels confusing and frightening and wonderful.”


I want to go to there!!

Springsteen’s Broadway debut is bringing audiences to tears

When legendary record producer and talent scout John Hammond signed Bruce Springsteen in 1972, the scraggly Jersey kid was envisioned as a lyrically intricate singer-songwriter, who might be New Jersey’s answer to Bob Dylan.

Now, after 45 years of tearing up stages all over the world with the E Street Band, the Boss has returned to the stripped-down sound that first got him noticed. On Thursday, Springsteen began his residency at Broadway’s 975-seat Walter Kerr Theatre and, in a sense, went full circle on his career.

Dressed in his usual dark shirt, jeans and boots, and backed with just piano, his guitars and a glass of water, the 68-year-old takes his fans on a biographical journey, as told through his back catalog and a set of scripted monologues. For two hours, you’re not just listening to Springsteen’s songs and anecdotes, you’re a silent witness to entire scenes of his life.

Sections of the bare-bones show are lifted from Springsteen’s 2016 autobiography “Born To Run,” and, just as in the book, Springsteen’s childhood in Freehold, NJ, is described in arresting detail. Whether it’s his memory of seeing Elvis on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” or of having ice water tipped on his sleepy head by his mother, Adele, the tales are unnervingly immersive.

In one sequence, he remembers his mom sending him into local bars to bring his dad home and articulates the experience so well, you can almost taste the light beer, cheap cigarettes and working-class resentment that Douglas Springsteen had for much of his life.

Frequently, Bruce drifts away from the microphone, but his monologues are still audible, and in this environment, they hit home harder than any Clarence Clemons sax solo, any Steve Van Zandt guitar riff or any Max Weinberg drum fill would.

True Bruce-heads will have heard these stories hundreds of times, and the songs thousands of times. But having them whispered in your ear from touching distance means they pack a bigger emotional punch.

During “Thunder Road,” I could hear at least three people gently sobbing (full disclosure: one of them was me), and there was no mistaking the seething fury of a forgotten Vietnam veteran in the chilling slide-guitar blues version of “Born in the USA.” This isn’t your usual night out at the Meadowlands, so if you yell “Brooooce!” too much, you run the risk of getting sternly shushed.

No one could ever say the E Street Band is unnecessary, but after so many years of blistering rock ’n’ roll shows (not least the four-hour marathons that lit up last year’s “The River” tour), the best way Springsteen can revitalize his music is to pull his soldiers back.

For now, only one E Street member remains in play, and that’s his wife, Patti Scialfa. She makes a brief appearance, duetting with Bruce on “Tougher Than the Rest” and “Brilliant Disguise,” during which the couple stare each other down in a way that’s so charged, you feel like you should probably look away.

It’s not all sad Jersey dirges, though. The Boss injects some laughs into the proceedings, too. “I’ve never done an honest day’s work, I’ve never worked a 9-to-5, never done any hard labor, and yet it’s all I’ve written about,” he says at one point. But the rehearsed nature of these lines leaves them feeling a little stilted.

Thankfully, there are candid, off-script moments that stand out. During Tuesday night’s preview, the best gag came when Bruce, upon hearing the crowd clapping along to “Dancing in the Dark,” stopped playing and said dryly, “I’ll handle this one myself.” It’s billed as a one-man show, and clearly, he intends to keep it that way.

It wouldn’t be accurate to say Bruce has never presented himself in this fashion. Tours in support of 1995’s “The Ghost of Tom Joad” and 2005’s “Devils & Dust” both showcased Springsteen in a more acoustic setting. But those albums largely illuminated the Boss in character. This is the first time since 1972 that Springsteen has put his entire life — unclouded and unaccompanied — onstage.

Hammond passed away in 1987, but as Springsteen himself stated recently, the Broadway setup is something his Columbia Records mentor would have loved.

“John thought Bruce was perfect as he was,” Springsteen’s first manager, Mike Appel, tells The Post. “Even I thought a band would be distracting because he was such an extraordinary lyricist. Without the band playing, you’re less likely to miss those lyrics and realize, ‘Wow, that’s powerful stuff.’”

Springsteen played just seven previews — with tickets on the black market fetching four-figure sums — before opening Thursday, but he’s already drawing repeat customers.

“He brings everything, and leaves nothing,” says Rick Zins, a 56-year-old financial adviser who first saw Springsteen at the Palladium in 1976, and has already been to the Walter Kerr Theatre twice. “You have to be here to understand it, but this show is expanding his legacy.”

Bruce’s Broadway set list:

“Growin’ Up”
“My Hometown”
“My Father’s House”
“The Wish”
“Thunder Road”
“The Promised Land”
“Born in the USA”
“Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out”
“Tougher Than the Rest” (with Patti Scialfa)
“Brilliant Disguise” (with Patti Scialfa)
“Long Walk Home”
“The Rising”
“Dancing in the Dark”
“Land of Hope and Dreams”
“Born to Run”


This week I saw – and enjoyed – BLADE RUNNER 2049 and AMERICAN MADE – which was soooo boring.

Box office: Happy Death Day takes down Blade Runner 2049

Call it deja vu: Another horror movie is slaying at the box office.

Universal and Blumhouse’s microbudget slasher Happy Death Day is on track to gross an estimated $26.5 million in the U.S. and Canada during its first weekend in theaters, exceeding industry projections and easily knocking off last week’s No. 1 film, Blade Runner 2049.

Starring Jessica Rothe as a college student who relives the day of her murder again and again until she discovers her killer’s identity, Happy Death Day received mixed to positive reviews and garnered a B CinemaScore — solid for a horror movie. The film, which cost about $4.5 million to make and was directed by Christopher Landon, continues a strong year for Blumhouse and Universal, who previously released M. Night Shyamalan’s Split and Jordan Peele’s Get Out.

Happy Death Day also marks the latest horror movie to top the box office, joining those aforementioned films as well as Warner Bros. and New Line’s Annabelle: Creation and It.

In second place, Warner Bros. and Alcon’s sci-fi sequel Blade Runner 2049 is set to take in about $15.1 million in its second weekend, falling off 54% from a disappointing $31.5 million debut and bringing its domestic total to $60.6 million after 10 days in theaters.

Those are lackluster figures for an ambitious, highly anticipated, and critically acclaimed film that boasts major talent — director Denis Villeneuve, stars Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford — and cost upward of $150 million to make. Based on Ridley Scott’s groundbreaking 1982 film Blade Runner, 2049 continues its story of cops hunting down rogue androids in dystopian Los Angeles.

2049 could still get a bump from potential awards season success, and from foreign markets, where it has so far grossed about $98 million.

Debuting in third place is STX’s R-rated action flick The Foreigner, with an estimated $12.8 million. Pitting martial arts legend Jackie Chan against erstwhile James Bond actor Pierce Brosnan, the tale of international intrigue has received mixed reviews and an A-minus CinemaScore.

The Chinese co-production, directed by Bond veteran Martin Campbell, has grossed an additional $88.4 million overseas.

Rounding out the top five this weekend are It, with an estimated $6.1 million, and Fox’s survival romance The Mountain Between Us, with an estimated $5.7 million.

Also arriving this weekend, in fewer theaters than Happy Death Day (3,149) and The Foreigner (2,515), were Open Road’s Thurgood Marshall biopic Marshall and Annapurna’s Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, about the unconventional life of the creator of Wonder Woman.

Marshall is poised to collect an estimated $3 million from 821 locations, good for 11th place, while Professor Marston is looking at $737,000 from 1,229 locations, putting it in the No. 15 spot.

According to ComScore, overall box office is down 4.7 percent year-to-date. Check out the Oct. 13-15 figures below.

1. Happy Death Day — $26.5 million
2. Blade Runner 2049 — $15.1 million
3. The Foreigner — $12.8 million
4. It — $6.1 million
5. The Mountain Between Us — $5.7 million
6. American Made — $5.4 million
7. Kingsman: The Golden Circle — $5.3 million
8. The Lego Ninjago Movie — $4.3 million
9. My Little Pony: The Movie — $4 million
10. Victoria and Abdul— $3.1 million


Hopefully she comes back for more.

Gillian Anderson won’t be back after X-Files’ 11th season

Gillian Anderson plans to walk away from The X-Files after the upcoming 11th season.

The actress, who plays Agent Dana Scully on the sci-fi show, attended New York Comic-Con on Sunday, and told fans she won’t be back for anymore supernatural adventures.

“I think this will be it for me,” she responded when one fan asked if there would be a 12th season of the show.

Anderson also revealed she only agreed to return for the 10th season revival because she wanted closure for her character: “I felt like it wasn’t over,” she said. “It didn’t feel like we necessarily (delivered) everything the fans were expecting of us last time.”

And she confessed she hadn’t planned to return for an 11th season, adding, “I thought I was done.”

The X-Files’ 11th season will premiere in January.


Looking forward to reading that one!!

Leonard Cohen’s final book due out in October 2018

TORONTO — Leonard Cohen’s final book, which he finished in the months before his death last November, will hit shelves next year.

McClelland and Stewart says it will release “The Flame” on Oct. 16, 2018.

The publishing house describes the book as “a stunning collection of Cohen’s last poems, selected and ordered by the author in the final months of his life.”

The book also has excerpts from his notebooks as well as the full lyrics to his final three albums and those written by Cohen for the album “Blue Alert” by his collaborator Anjani.

Readers will also get to see prose pieces and illustrations by the Montreal-born “Hallelujah” singer-songwriter, who died Nov. 7 at age 82.

McClelland and Stewart calls the book “an enormously powerful final chapter in Cohen’s storied literary career.”

“During the final months of his life, Leonard had a singular focus — completing this book taken largely from his unpublished poems and selections from his notebooks,” Robert Kory, Cohen’s manager and trustee of the Cohen estate, said Friday in a statement.

“The flame and how our culture threatened its extinction was a central concern. Though in declining health, Leonard died unexpectedly.

“Those of us who had the rare privilege of spending time with him during this period recognized that the flame burned bright within him to the very end. This book, finished only days before his death, reveals to all the intensity of his inner fire. ”

McClelland and Stewart publisher Jared Bland said the book is “full of Leonard Cohen’s signature combination of grace, humour, wisdom, and heartbreaking insight into the fragility and beauty of this world we all share.”

“It will endure as a testament to his humanity and genius, and delight his millions of fans around the world,” said Bland.


I need to see BLADE RUNNER 2049!!

Blade Runner 2049 disappoints with $31.5 million opening

The future isn’t looking all that bright for Blade Runner 2049‘s box office prospects. The long-awaited, highly anticipated sci-fi sequel is on track to gross an estimated $31.5 million in the U.S. and Canada during its opening weekend, surpassing its competition but falling considerably short of industry projections, which had put it in the $45 million-$55 million range.

Heading into the weekend, 2049 appeared to have the makings of a hit, including glowing reviews, strong advance ticket sales, a starry cast led by Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling, a name director in Denis Villeneuve (Arrival, Sicario), and the blessing of original Blade Runner filmmaker Ridley Scott (on board this time as executive producer).

Those who did turn out for the film this weekend skewed male (71%) and older (63% over 35, 86% over 25), and gave it a solid A-minus CinemaScore. But while $31.5 million represents a career high opening for both Villeneuve and Gosling, it’s a disappointing start for a production that reportedly cost upward of $150 million to make. The figure calls to mind Scott’s Alien: Covenant — another attempt at re-invigorating a beloved sci-fi property — which opened to $36.2 million and ultimately crashed at the box office.

2049 was produced by Alcon Entertainment and released by Warner Bros. domestically, with Sony handling international distribution. The film looks to add an estimated $50.2 million from overseas markets this weekend.

The original Blade Runner, released in 1982, was not embraced by critics or audiences at first. But appreciation for the cerebral, slow-burning, and visually striking film — which starred Ford as a jaded cop hunting down androids in dystopian Los Angeles — has grown over the years, and it has become enormously influential across pop culture. Time will tell whether 2049 can find more immediate success.

Coming in a distant second behind Blade Runner 2049 is Fox’s survival romance The Mountain Between Us, with an estimated $10.1 million. The new release, which stars Idris Elba and Kate Winslet as two strangers stranded by a plane crash in the snowy Utah wilderness, received mixed reviews and an A-minus CinemaScore.

The weekend’s other major newcomer, Lionsgate’s animated movie My Little Pony: The Movie, is in line for the No. 4 spot with an estimated $8.8 million. Based on the Hasbro franchise and featuring the voices of Liev Schreiber, Michael Pena, Emily Blunt, Kristin Chenoweth, Taye Diggs, and Zoe Saldana, My Little Pony also garnered an A-minus CinemaScore and mixed reviews.

Rounding out the top five are Warner Bros. and New Line’s horror hit It, in third place with an estimated $9.7 million, and Fox’s spy sequel Kingsman: The Golden Circle, with an estimated $8.1 million.

According to ComScore, overall box office is down 4.8 percent year-to-date. Check out the Oct. 6- 8 figures below.

1. Blade Runner 2049 — $31.5 million
2. The Mountain Between Us — $10.1 million
3. It — $9.7 million
4. My Little Pony: The Movie — $8.8 million
5. Kingsman: The Golden Circle — $8.1 million
6. American Made — $8 million
7. The Lego Ninjago Movie — $6.8 million
8. Victoria and Abdul — $4.1 million
9. Flatliners — $3.8 million
10. Battle of the Sexes— $2.4 million


I’m so heartbroken over his passing. I still don’t believe it!! Rest in Peace, Tom Petty.

Tom Petty, Hall of Fame singer who became rock mainstay in 1970s, dies at 66

Tom Petty, a singer and guitarist who burst onto the scene in the 1970s as one of the most original, searching voices in rock and remained a major hitmaker for four decades, writing songs including “Free Fallin’,” “I Won’t Back Down” and “American Girl,” died Oct. 2 at a hospital in Santa Monica, Calif. He was 66.

Mr. Petty died in a hospital after being found unconscious at his home in Malibu, according to Tony Dimitriades, longtime manager of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. He had suffered cardiac arrest.

Mr. Petty and his band, the Heartbreakers, released their self-titled debut in 1976 and soon drew comparisons to the bluesy, guitar-heavy rock of the Rolling Stones and the Byrds. Their music was unabashedly sentimental, seeming to speak to striving, everyday Americans no less than the songs of fellow rocker Bruce Springsteen, while featuring clever arrangements that intertwined the fretwork of Mr. Petty and lead guitarist Mike Campbell.

The group toured seemingly nonstop for decades, leading boisterous shows as recently as last week, when Mr. Petty concluded a nationwide tour that he said may well be his last. “I don’t want to spend my life on the road,” he told Rolling Stone.

Still, Mr. Petty seemed to treat rock as a religion, battling with his record label to prevent the cost of one of his albums from rising by $1 and exuding a sense of divine satisfaction while performing onstage. “I don’t think he thought there was a better way to live your life than in a rock band,” said rock historian and Rolling Stone contributor Anthony DeCurtis. “You never get a sense that this guy was going through the motions at all. It was a matter of conviction for him.”

Mr. Petty, the group’s leader and principal songwriter, was a musical craftsman who paired polished guitar riffs with lyrics that seemed lifted from barroom conversations in his home town of Gainesville, Fla. His 1978 single “Listen to Her Heart” begins, “You think you’re gonna take her away with your money and your cocaine,” while “I Won’t Back Down” — the 1989 fist-pumper that Mr. Petty co-wrote with Jeff Lynne — starts this way: “Well, I won’t back down / No, I won’t back down / You can stand me up at the gates of hell / But I won’t back down.”

It was simple, straightforward and catchy, with a hummable hook that helped Mr. Petty’s solo debut, “Full Moon Fever” (1989), sell millions of copies. His “Greatest Hits” record, a compilation that included the harmonica-driven single “Mary Jane’s Last Dance,” fared even better, sitting on the Top 200 albums chart for more than six years and briefly staking a claim to one of the 100 best-selling albums of all time.

Mr. Petty’s career was marked by personal problems that included a heroin addiction, a tumultuous marriage and a 1987 house fire that burned everything but his basement recording studio. But he remained one of the most durable and distinctive presences in rock for decades, sporting a nasal voice and blond hair that fell to his shoulders.

His 1980s music videos, including an “Alice in Wonderland”-inspired video for “Don’t Come Around Here No More” (1985), in which Mr. Petty played a sunglasses-wearing Mad Hatter, introduced him to some members of the MTV generation. And his recordings with the Traveling Wilburys, a supergroup that formed in 1988 with Bob Dylan, George Harrison of the Beatles and Roy Orbison (who died later that year), connected him with an earlier era of rock music.

Still, Mr. Petty remained an inscrutable presence to many fans. As one friend told Petty biographer Warren Zanes, “He’s got tinted windows on his soul.”

Thomas Earl Petty was born in Gainesville on Oct. 20, 1950, the son of an alcoholic insurance salesman who beat him relentlessly from the time he was 5. His body, he later said, was covered in welts. His revenge was a slingshot to the fin of his father’s 1955 Cadillac.

He escaped the pain of his family life through watching television and then through music. An encounter with rock star Elvis Presley, who was in town to shoot a scene from the 1962 Hollywood musical “Follow That Dream,” was a defining moment of his childhood. Through family connections — an uncle who had been hired to assist the film crew — he managed to get onto the film set and meet the star.

He soon became obsessed with the guitar, the instrument of his musical idol, and his school grades began to drop. He said he preferred the company of his guitar to dates and other teenage rites of passage, and as the Beatles invaded the pop charts his hair grew in length.

Mr. Petty played in local rock bands, with musical dates often in topless bars, and left school at 17 to devote himself to the group Mudcrutch, which included two later foundational members of the Heartbreakers, keyboardist Benmont Tench and lead guitarist Mike Campbell. He was, former bandmate Jim Lenahan told Zanes, ferociously ambitious, “really good at getting people to quit school and join his band.”

Mudcrutch had a strong following in Florida, but Mr. Petty said he was determined to cast a wider mark, which meant writing his own music and hoping it would catch the attention of a record company in Los Angeles.

They signed with Shelter Records, but the band broke up over artistic and personal clashes. “We did the L.A. freakout,” Mr. Petty later quipped. Not until 1975, at a demo session that included Tench, Campbell, drummer Stan Lynch and bassist Ron Blair, did Mr. Petty suddenly find the chemistry just right.

Calling themselves Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, they released two major hits the next year, “American Girl” and “Breakdown,” which vaulted them to national attention and a regular spot performing at the Whiskey a Go Go and other major Los Angeles clubs.

Their style was a throwback in many ways, a rejection of arena rock bands like Led Zeppelin and the blues roots music of the Allman Brothers in favor of the feral sound of early Presley and Buddy Holly. When promoters and radio stations classified the group as a punk act, Mr. Petty fumed. He and his band were pure rockers.

Legal entanglements ensued when his record company changed hands after the release of the band’s second album, “You’re Gonna Get It!” in 1978. Mr. Petty said he refused to be “bought and sold like a peace of meat,” and found his career stalled over charges of breach of contract when he wanted out. He declared bankruptcy in 1979, signed with a new label, Backstreet Records, and reached a settlement with his former record company.

The new arrangement would mark a renaissance in Mr. Petty’s music. The record “Damn the Torpedoes” (1979) — a playful jab at his legal troubles — endures as one of the timeless rock albums of the era, oozing tenderness and toughness and a propulsive rock drive on songs such as “Refugee” and “Louisiana Rain.” The album, defined by Mr. Petty’s emotive vocals and Campbell’s vital guitarwork, sold millions of copies and summited the pop charts.

Mr. Petty’s next several albums with the Heartbreakers — including “Hard Promises” (1981), with a duet with Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac on the song “Insider,” and “Long After Dark” (1982) — continued to sell exceedingly well. Critics rhapsodized on his originality and suppleness.

“The music on ‘Long after Dark’ offers the passion, the attention to detail, the delicate balance of originality and love of tradition that have always informed the best rock-and-roll,” Robert Palmer wrote in the New York Times. “ ‘Long after Dark’ also happens to be one of the most gorgeous-sounding rock-and-roll albums in recent memory. Mr. Petty and his collaborators have fashioned an aural landscape of remarkable beauty and depth. Phalanxes of electric 12-stringed guitars advance across meadows of layered keyboards, while 6-strings chime out harmonious, pealing chords and drums crash like thunder.”

As the decade progressed, Mr. Petty lent his name recognition to benefit concerts such as Live Aid, and he also contributed hitmaking songs for other performers, including “Never Be You” for Rosanne Cash. Worried that the Heartbreakers were becoming too well-oiled for their own good, he ventured into conceptual rock — with touches of psychedelia and soul — for their 1985 album “Southern Accents,” which had the one-off hit “Don’t Come Around Here No More.”

In 1986, he and the Heartbreakers toured as the backing band for Dylan, one of Mr. Petty’s chief musical influences. Their next album, “Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough)” in 1987, demonstrated a shaggy freewheeling spirit more than their previous polished studio work and a virtuoso-like versatility, but he also saw his commercial prospects dwindling.

His work with the Traveling Wilburys, and the chart-topping success of “Free Fallin’ ” and “I Won’t Back Down,” from “Full Moon Fever,” propelled him into the next decade. As Mr. Petty put it, the album “made me such a nice guy for about a year.” He was now a household name, an arena-filling act who suddenly became a target for music critics anticipating that he — now on the precipice of fame — would relinquish his mantle as an innovator and leave behind his roots in favor of lucre.

His later albums, among them “Into the Great Wide Open” and “Wildflowers,” continued to reap financial rewards for its creator, but he remained very much attuned to musical integrity. His music lacked superstar pretensions in favor of exquisite melodies and high-level craftsmanship. He tried to avoid the pitfalls of 1980s rock-band excess, and he embraced the hallmarks of the post-Nirvana generation of music makers.

“They don’t give a damn how much money they’re going to make,” he told the London Independent in 1994. “I think in America for a long time you had groups that wanted to be stars more than they wanted to make music. We always went on the theory that if we made really good music we might attain stardom, but it was never the primary goal.”

Mr. Petty made idiosyncratic guest appearances in the 1997 Kevin Costner film “The Postman” and on TV shows including “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show” and the animated series, “King of the Hill.”

His marriage to Jane Benyo, with whom he had two daughters, ended in divorce; he said her escalating drug use and mental illness, including threats of suicide, exacerbated his own prodigious heroin consumption and a furtive public posture. In 2001, he married Dana York in a ceremony presided over by rock star and ordained minister Little Richard. A complete list of survivors could not be immediately confirmed.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted Mr. Petty and the Heartbreakers in 2002. “I’d like to see us break some new ground and leave some sort of mark on the music,” Mr. Petty once said, according to his citation. “That would be the nicest thing — to give something back, as noble as it sounds. If you could make some little dent in rock, where that little area is yours — that’s what I’m striving for now.”


I saw the Pearl Jam documentary LET’S PLAY TWO and The Tragically Hip doc LONG TIME RUNNING this weekend. I still need to see AMERICAN MADE and BATTLE OF THE SEXES.

It edging out American Made and Kingsman 2 at the box office

It is rising up from the sewers and looking to reclaim the box office crown. In its fourth weekend in theaters, Warner Bros. and New Line’s horror hit is on track to gross an estimated $17.3 million in the U.S. and Canada, narrowly topping the new Tom Cruise caper American Made and last week’s winner, Kingsman: The Golden Circle. Meanwhile Sony’s Flatliners reboot is showing few signs of life.

Based on Stephen King’s 1986 novel and directed by Andy Muschietti, It powered a record-breaking September at the domestic box office, where it has grossed $291.2 million. The film has added $262 million in foreign markets, pushing its worldwide total well past the half-billion-dollar mark, to $553.2 million.

Given It‘s critical and commercial success, it’s no surprise that a sequel was recently slated to hit theaters in 2019.

On It‘s tail, however, are Universal’s American Made with an estimated $17.016 million and Fox’s Kingsman: The Golden Circle with an estimated $17 million. (Final weekend grosses will be reported Monday.)

The former film, directed by Doug Liman (Edge of Tomorrow) and starring Cruise as TWA pilot turned drug runner and arms smuggler Barry Seal, has garnered positive reviews and received a decent B-plus CinemaScore from audiences. However, it also marks the lowest opening for a Cruise film since 2012’s Jack Reacher ($15.2 million).

Cruise remains a draw overseas, where American Made has been rolling out over the past several weeks to the tune of $64.7 million.

A hair’s breadth behind American Made, director Matthew Vaughn’s Kingsman sequel is on pace to decline 56% in its second weekend, bringing its domestic total to $66.7 million. For the sake of comparison, the original Kingsman declined 49% in its sophomore frame, putting its total at $68 million.

The weekend’s other new major release, Flatliners, will gross an estimated $6.7 million, taking fifth place and falling short of industry projections, which had it closer to $10 million. A remake of Joel Schumacher’s 1990 thriller about a group of medical students who conduct dangerous near-death experiments, the film took a drubbing from critics (it currently has a 0% score on Rotten Tomatoes) and received a tepid B-minus CinemaScore from moviegoers.

The new film is directed by Niels Arden Oplev, who previously helmed the Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and stars Ellen Page, Diego Luna, and Nina Dobrev.

Filling out the top five is Warner Bros’. The Lego Ninjago Movie, in fourth place with $12 million. After 10 days in North American theaters, the animated film has taken in $35.6 million, lagging well behind the pace of predecessors The Lego Movie and The Lego Batman Movie.

Further down the list, Fox Searchlight’s Oscar hopeful Battle of the Sexes expanded from 21 theaters to 1,213 in its second weekend and is on pace to gross an estimated $3.4 million, while the Taye Diggs-led psychological thriller Til Death Do Us Part (distributed by Novus Content) is poised to crack the top 10 with a $1.5 million bow. Both figures are below industry projections.

According to ComScore, overall box office is down 4.7 percent year-to-date. Check out the Sept. 29-Oct. 1 figures below.

1. It — $17.3 million
2. American Made — $17.016 million
3. Kingsman: The Golden Circle — $17 million
4. The Lego Ninjago Movie — $12 million
5. Flatliners — $6.7 million
6. Battle of the Sexes — $3.4 million
7. American Assassin — $3.3 million
8. Home Again — $1.8 million
9. Til Death Do Us Part — $1.5 million
10. mother! — $1.46 million


May he rest in peace.

Monty Hall, ‘Let’s Make a Deal’ Host, Dies at 96

Monty Hall, the emcee, producer, singer and sportscaster best known as the host and co-creator of the influential long-running game show “Let’s Make a Deal,” has died at age 96.

Born Monte Halparin in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada to an Orthodox Jewish family, Hall began his career in broadcasting on the radio in 1946, but soon moved into the then-nascent television industry. He hosted several pivotal game shows in the 1940s and 50s, among them “Strike It Rich” on CBS, the short-lived CBS game show “Video Village,” and briefly in 1958, NBC’s notorious “Twenty One” (though he was not involved in the contest-rigging scandal for which that show is best known).

“We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Monty Hall, a television legend who hosted a show and created a format that has entertained audiences for more than 50 years,” said Angelica McDaniel, Executive Vice President, Daytime Programs and Syndicated Program Development, CBS Entertainment and CBS Television Distribution in a statement. “Monty’s infectious enthusiasm, humor and warmth were a winning combination that was evident to everyone he encountered, whether returning to make appearances on the current version of LET’S MAKE A DEAL, or gracing us with his presence at a photo shoot celebrating CBS Daytime earlier this year. On screen, Monty made the ‘Big Deals,’ but in the game of life, he himself was one. Our hearts go out to his children, his entire family and friends.”

Hall moved to California in the early 60s, and developed “Let’s Make a Deal” with his partner, Stefan Hatos. The show, in which audience members make “deals” for cash or prizes, presented contestants with often-difficult choices between cash or an unknown prize behind a closed door. The surprises could be anything from vacation packages and appliance to booby prizes.

“Let’s Make a Deal” ran on NBC from 1963 to 1968, then switched to ABC until 1976. It aired in syndication through 1986 and was briefly revived on NBC in 1990 and again in 2003. It has has aired on CBS since 2009.

Hall hosted the series through its entire original run, and returned briefly in 1991, appearing in front of the camera for over 4,700 episodes.
Hall was also an generous philanthropist. Children’s wings at UCLA Medical Center, Philadelphia’s Hahnemann University Hospital, Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital, and Johns Hopkins are named after him, and in 1988 he was inducted into the Order of Canada for his efforts.

Hall is survived by his daughters, son, sons in law, and grandchildren. Hall’s wife of 70 years, Emmy-winning producer Marilyn Hall, died in June.