When John Fay’s son decided to join a rock ’n’ roll band instead of attending university, he never thought he’d make it a career.
But when the band managed to book thousands of gigs and sell millions of records, it became clear that Johnny Fay would not become a high school teacher or a lawyer like his brothers.
“By the mid- to late-’80s it was pretty obvious that this is what he was going to do, at least for a prolonged period of time,” said the retired cardiologist. “I guess it just became his career.”
John Fay has watched his son’s band play a concert for the Queen of England and join both Canada’s Walk of Fame and the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.
And this weekend, John Fay is in Ottawa to see his son’s band, The Tragically Hip, receive the Governor General’s National Arts Centre Award, recognizing its extraordinary work and significance in the performing arts.
Despite the award, celebrated in Ottawa over three days, Johnny Fay played down the band’s success.
“Since 1984, we made our way across the country playing to three people here and four people there,” he said at a reception on Parliament Hill yesterday. “We’ve had some Junos, but nothing like this. It’s a great honour.”
Seven other Canadians will be recognized at the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards for lifetime achievement in the performing arts in Canada.
Award-winner actor and comedian Eugene Levy said the honour was one of the more important things that can happen in one’s career.
“I feel fortunate that I’ve been able to do what I’ve done and now I’m here getting this award for it … words fail me.”
Other lifetime achievement award winners are composer Anton Kuerti, dancer/ choreographer Brian Macdonald, playwright John Murrell, director Alanis Obomsawin and rock musician Michel Pagliaro.
Fundraiser Eric Charman is getting the Ramon John Hnatyshyn Award for volunteerism.
A tribute to this year’s award recipients will be held tomorrow at the National Arts Centre.