At the age of 24, Tyson left behind the itinerant logging and rodeo life of British Columbia and hitchhiked to Toronto. Caught up in the folk music revival, he formed, along with a very young Sylvia Fricker, the legendary singing duo of Ian and Sylvia.
The influential folk duo, Ian and Sylvia, married in 1964, recorded over a do zen timeless albums, including their best known and often covered hits - Ian's Four Strong Winds and Someday Soon, and Sylvia's You Were On My Mind.
During the British Invasion, Ian and Sylvia evolved into pioneers of country-rock. Their band, Great Speckled Bird, rivaled the Byrds and other groups which helped create modern country a decade before the Urban Cowboy phase or contemporary "new traditionalists".
After hosting a national Canadian television music show from 1970 to 1975, Tyson realized his dream of returning to the Canadian West. The music and marriage of Ian and Sylvia had ended and it was now or never. Disillusioned with the Canadian country music scene, Tyson decided the time had come for him to return to his first love, training horses in the big ranch country of southern Alberta.
After three idyllic years cowboying in the Rockies at Pincher Creek, Tyson, at the urging of his new wife Twylla, recorded the album Old Corrals and Sagebrush consisting of cowboy songs, both traditional and new. "Kind of a musical Christmas card for my friends" he recalls, "we weren't looking for a 'hit radio' play or anything like that." Unbeknownst to Tyson and his friends, the cowboy renaissance was about to find expression at the inaugural Elko Cowboy Poetry Gathering in 1983. A small coterie of saddle makers, rawhide braiders, cowboy poets and pickers discovered one another in this small cowtown in northern Nevada. Tyson was invited to perform his "new western music" and the overwhelming response at Stockman's Casino brought Tyson the realization that he had found his true audience.
Tyson considers himself a very fortunate man. His second music career takes him to concerts all over North America, where he is able to ride the deserts and sage hills with his friends from Alberta to Mexico.
"I like to surround myself with the most talented musicians," Tyson says, "so that people not directly from the ranch culture can enjoy an evening with us through the music alone. Everyone, it seems, can relate to a song like Someday Soon and that's the kind of communication I strive for."
The striving continues and the songs keep coming from the word painter of the west. His last album, Lost Herd, won the 1999 Prairie Music Award for "Outstanding Country Recording". Ian's current CD, Live At Longview, was recorded in October 2001 and released to the North American public in February 2002. A collection of 17 of Ian's favorite songs, some classics and some brand new, Live At Longview is creating quite a buzz amongst both fans and peers, alike. Mike Regenstreif of the Montreal Gazette writes, "At 68, and with 40 years of recordings to his credit, Ian Tyson remains the best singer and songwriter in Canadian Country Music. On this great-sounding live set, Tyson mixes 6 new songs with 10 of his classics and a western swing version of Blue Moon. Tyson is as engaging as he's ever been. The new material is terrific . . . older songs, like Navajo Rug and Someday Soon, sound as fresh and as vital as the new tunes. This is an essential addition to Tyson's rich catalogue." ****½
Ian Tyson, a recipient of the Order of Canada, lives with his wife and daughter on a ranch in Alberta's Rocky Mountains and is exclusively represented by fellow Canadian, Paul Mascioli of Mascioli Entertainment Corporation, Orlando, FL.