John Morris Rankin

Dateline: January 21, 2000

The Rankins were one of the most notable bands from the Canadian Maritimes.

The lush harmonies of the song "Fare Thee Well Love" filled the room as I turned on MuchMusic that day. Those angellic voices were those of The Rankin Family (later to be known as simply, "The Rankins").

Five brothers and sisters from Cape Breton (with another six siblings in the family), The Rankins really brought Canadaian Celtic music into the mainstream. Although they recently disbanded so that certain members could spend more time with their families, The Rankins are still considered an integral part of Canada's music scene.

The continued popularity of the group made the death of the senior member, oldest brother John Morris Rankin this week all the more shocking. A truck accident claimed his life this past Sunday at the age of 40. Rankin's truck plunged into the Gulf of St. Lawrence when he lost control. The entire country has been in mourning ever since.

John Morris Rankin was a musician's musician -- he could play practically any instrument he put his hands on, but focussed on the fiddle and piano. He was (and will no doubt continue to be) a huge inspiration to other Celtic style fiddlers like Natalie MacMaster. John Morris was especially praised for his keyboard style -- he never had formal training, but could read music and was a gifted composer and arranger.

After the disbandment of The Rankins, John Morris continued to work on solo projects and projects in conjunction with other musicians. A dedicated father and husband, he was very family oriented and lived a quiet lifestyle.

John Morris Rankin is survived by his wife Sally, his daughter Molly (13) and his son Michael (15). Michael and two friends were in the truck at the time of the accident, on their way to a hockey game. Apparently, his father told the boys to jump, and they survived. It appears that John Morris Rankin died in the same manner in which he lived -- putting his family first.

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