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Rankin Family Member Dies

John Morris Rankin

©John Chiasson 1999

January 16, 2000. John Morris Rankin of the former Rankin Family is dead today after an accident. Here's the story from CBC Newsworld:

MARGAREE HARBOUR, NOVA SCOTIA - John Morris Rankin, a member of the former Celtic group The Rankin Family, was killed Sunday when the truck he was driving to a hockey game plunged into the Margaree River in Cape Breton.

Three teenage passengers, including Rankin's son Michael, managed to escape, but police say rescuers couldn't reach his father in time. It took them several hours to recover his body from the frigid water.

Investigators are not sure why the vehicle went off the road, but there are reports Rankin swerved to try to avoid a pile of salt on the highway.

"Everybody in the community knew him," said one man in Rankin's hometown of Mabou, N.S. "A real stand-up fellow, straight-up guy. He was one of the local people who made it."

John Rankin, 40, played piano and fiddle with The Rankin Family. Fans say he was the quiet member of the Cape Breton band, but that his musical ability was unsurpassed.

Promoter Brookes Diamond worked with The Rankin Family on their early tours. He says John was a powerful force in the family as the band went on to sell millions of records and tour the world.

Diamond described him as "quiet, but smart, serious," and someone who "wanted to see the right thing done."

The five brothers and sisters began performing in Mabou, Nova Scotia, in 1989. They rocketed to fame soon after the release of their second recording, Fare Thee Well Love.

The band, which later shortened its name to The Rankins, sold more than two million records, and won five Juno Awards, including group of the year in 1994. They stopped performing together last September.

Jimmy Rankin left the Family Farm Tribute concert in Toronto Sunday as soon as he was notified of his brother's death.

This news comes as a shock to everyone. My heart goes out to all the Rankins, but particularly to John Morris' family.
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