Canadian country-folk legend Stompin' Tom Connors, whose toe-tapping musical spirit and fierce patriotism established him as one of Canada's strongest cultural icons, has died. He was 77.
Connors passed away Wednesday from what a spokesman described as "natural causes."
Brian Edwards said the musician, rarely seen without his signature black cowboy hat and stomping cowboy boots, knew his health was declining and had penned a message for his fans a few days before his death.
In the message posted on his website, Connors says Canada kept him "inspired with its beauty, character, and spirit, driving me to keep marching on and devoted to sing about its people and places that make Canada the greatest country in the world."
On Twitter, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said "we have lost a true Canadian original. R.I.P. Stompin' Tom Connors. You played the best game that could be played."
The National Hockey League tweeted "Sad to hear that legendary Canadian Stompin' Tom Connors has passed. His legacy lives on in arenas every time The Hockey Song
Connors is survived by his wife Lena, two sons, two daughters and several grandchildren.
Stompin' Tom Connors performs at Live from Rideau Hall, a concert held at Rideau Hall in Ottawa Sunday, June 16, 2002. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)
Dubbed Stompin' Tom for his propensity to pound the floor with his left foot during performances, Connors garnered a devoted following through straight-ahead country-folk tunes that drew inspiration from his extensive travels and focused on the everyman.