Karl Tremblay, singer for Les Cowboys Fringants, has died of prostate cancer, band members announced on Facebook Wednesday. He was 47.
The award-winning Quebec band is known for hits such as Toune d’automne, Les étoiles filantes and L’Amérique pleure.
Tremblay’s cancer diagnosis was made public in 2022. In the year following the announcement, several shows were cancelled.
“It is with indescribable sadness that we announce Karl’s departure,” says the band’s Facebook page.
“He was an exemplary warrior in the face of disease and a role model for us all.”
The post was signed by Marie-Annick Lépine, Jean-François Pauzé and Jérôme Dupras.
But Tremblay was back on stage with the band in July, singing to a full capacity crowd — nearly 90,000 people — on the Plains of Abraham in Quebec City during the Festival d’été de Québec.
Breakaway12:07Les Cowboys Fringants hand their fans an emotional last FEQ evening
His performance was marked by his clear exhaustion on stage, wiping sweat from his brow and even taking a seat at one point. But he pushed on through the performance with a band that first united more than 25 years ago.
The emotional performance was not the singer’s last.
People from across Quebec travelled to Saint-Tite, Que., in September to see the band perform its last show of the summer. Many spectators considered themselves privileged to have had the experience, knowing Tremblay’s health was failing.
“We are Les Cowboys Fringants, ladies and gentlemen. A band that was predisposed to come and play for you, here, this evening,” Tremblay said to open the show.
He was referencing one of the band’s songs, which includes Saint-Tite in the lyrics.
In French, the lyrics to Les routes du bonheur include the lines, “Sur le chemin de Saint-Tite. Comme une fleur, je t’ai cueillie. Toi, ma belle Marguerite.”
This roughly translates to, “On the way to Saint-Tite. Like a flower, I picked you. You, my beautiful Marguerite.”
Tremblay was honoured during the annual awards gala hosted by the Quebec association for the recording, concert and video industries (ADISQ) earlier this month.
Louis-José Houde, who hosted the ceremony, dedicated the evening to the singer.
In November of 2022, Quebec’s statistics agency said that only four of the top 50 most-listened-to artists in Quebec on streaming services were from the province. The number one Quebec artist was folk-rock group Les Cowboys fringants, in 16th place.