GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The director of an Upper Peninsula museum says folk singer Gordon Lightfoot’s famous song, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” helped keep the memory of the vessel and its crew alive.
“As much as we like to think that the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum (does) a lot to tell the story of the Edmund Fitzgerald and her crew of 29, no one can come close to what Gordon Lightfoot did as far as public awareness,” Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum Executive Director Bruce Lynn said.
Lightfoot died Monday at the age of 84.
Eight years ago, he visited the museum at Whitefish Point to mark the 40th anniversary of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald. Lightfoot arrived a day early for the memorial event to talk to family members of the Fitzgerald’s crew.
“He wanted to make it more about the Fitzgerald and particularly the surviving Fitzgerald family members and not about Gordon Lightfoot,” Lynn said.
Lightfoot developed a relationship with the families, keeping in contact with them after the event.
“He did a wonderful job at telling the story and even in later years he subtly altered the lyrics a little bit because he had grown close to some of the Fitzgerald family members,” Lynn said. “The fact that he would come up to the museum, the fact that he would stay so connected with those family members, I think that says it all right there.”
Lynn said the museum is working on events to honor Lightfoot’s impact. He wants to have a Lightfoot tribute band at the next memorial for the Edmund Fitzgerald.