Bruce Cockburn

Bruce Cockburn (born May 27, 1945) is a Canadian singer-songwriter from Ottawa, best known for a long string of albums on the True North label, starting in 1970. His biggest hits include “Wondering Where the Lions Are” and the politically-charged “If I Had a Rocket Launcher.”

He was born in Ottawa, Ontario, the son of radiologist Doug Cockburn. The family resided in nearby Westboro, where Bruce took up guitar at age thirteen. After mastering a gold-star adorned acoustic that he salvaged from his grandmother’s attic, his parents bought him a Kat Archtop.

Cockburn learned piano and music theory from Westboro United Church organist Peter Hall, who encouraged the young musician’s interest in jazz. He attended Nepean High School, where he often played guitar in the hallway. After graduating in 1964, he busked for a time in Paris. That fall, he attended Boston’s Berklee School of Music, where he studied jazz composition. He dropped out after three semesters and joined his first band, The Children.

In early 1967, Cockburn joined the final lineup of Ottawa popsters The Esquires, which charted earlier with “So Many Other Boys.” That summer, he moved to Toronto and formed The Flying Circus with singer and bassist Neil Lillie. They cut a handful of demos (never released) before Lillie split for Los Angeles under a new name, Neil Merryweather. Flying Circus changed its name to Olivus and opened an April 2, 1968, date at the Paul Sauve Arena with Soft Machine and the Jimi Hendrix Experience.

In the summer of 1968, Cockburn joined 3’s a Crowd, a veteran folk act with David Wiffen and Colleen Peterson. Cockburn contributed three songs to their lone album, Christopher’s Movie Matinee, released that year. He left the following spring to launch his solo career. In 1969, he headlined the Mariposa Folk Festival. Late that year, he signed with the newly established True North label.


  • Bruce Cockburn (1970)
  • High Winds White Sky (1971)
  • Sunwheel Dance (1972)
  • Night Vision (1973)
  • Salt, Sun and Time (1974)
  • Joy Will Find a Way (1975)
  • In the Falling Dark (1976)
  • Circles in the Stream (1977)
  • Further Adventures Of (1978)
  • Dancing in the Dragon’s Jaws (1979)
  • Humans (1980)
  • Inner City Front (1981)
  • The Trouble With Normal (1983)
  • Stealing Fire (1984)
  • World of Wonders (1986)
  • Big Circumstance (1988)
  • Nothing but a Burning Light (1991)
  • Christmas (1993)
  • Dart to the Heart (1994)
  • The Charity of Night (1997)
  • Breakfast in New Orleans, Dinner in Timbuktu (1999)
  • You’ve Never Seen Everything (2003)
  • Life Short Call Now (2006)
  • Small Source of Comfort (2011)
  • Bone on Bone (2017)
  • Crowing Ignites (2019)


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