Cochrane was born in Lynn Lake, Manitoba, to Violet and Tuck Cochrane, a bush pilot. The family relocated to Acton, Ontario, when Tom was four years old and later to Etobicoke, Ontario. He purchased his first guitar at age 11 by selling a toy train set. Cochrane attended Martingrove Collegiate Institute in the late 1960s. In the early 1970s, Tom was performing in coffee houses across Canada. He eventually made his way to Los Angeles where he found a job writing theme music for the movie My Pleasure Is My Business, the Xaviera Hollander story. Unable to find steady income from music, Cochrane returned to Toronto, where he drove a taxi cab and later took a job on a Caribbean cruise liner.
After meeting at the El Mocambo tavern in Toronto, Cochrane joined the Canadian rock band Red Rider in 1978 and served as their lead singer and main songwriter for more than ten years. Red Rider included Ken Greer, Jeff Jones, Peter Boynton and Rob Baker. Bruce Allen managed the band from their debut until 1985. Cochrane recorded six studio albums with Red Rider plus a live album, a best of album, and a box set. By 1986, the band was billed as "Tom Cochrane & Red Rider". He would later refer to this period of his career as a stretch of "manageable success" before the release of Mad Mad World.
In 2002, Cochrane reunited with his former Red Rider bandmates Greer and Jones and continues to perform with them today. A complete listing of Red Rider's recordings is included below.
Already a household name in Canada from his time with Red Rider, Cochrane launched his solo career in 1991 with the release of the song "Life Is a Highway." The single became a global success and was followed by the release of his Mad Mad World album, which would reach the six million mark in worldwide sales. The albums Ragged Ass Road, Songs of a Circling Spirit, X-Ray Sierra and No Stranger followed. Cochrane's massive body of music and energetic live shows have established him as one of Canada's most treasured artists.
An avid golfer, pilot, and hockey buff, Cochrane currently lives in Oakville, Ontario with his wife Kathleen.
He spends summers at his cottage/studio on the shores of Georgian Bay in Northern Ontario and winters part-time at his home outside of Austin, Texas. Tom and his wife Kathleene have two daughters, Cody and Evanne. Cochrane continues to tour and perform in Canada where he remains a popular live act. In 2006, the group Rascal Flatts charted in the top 10 of the Hot 100 with a cover of Tom Cochrane's "Life Is a Highway," which they recorded for the Pixar film Cars. Although "Life Is a Highway" was not released to country radio, several country stations began playing the song, causing it to chart within the top 20 of Hot Country Songs. Chris Ledoux also had a country hit with "Life Is A Highway".
In October, 2016, Cochrane celebrated the twenty-fifth anniversary of his Mad Mad World album with the announcement of the release of a special edition of the album, featuring a demo recording of Love is a Highway, the working title of Life is a Highway, as well as a second disc featuring a live performance from a 1992 Chicago stop on the tour supporting the album. The celebration will continue into 2017 with a cross-country tour, with Meghan Patrick and Nice Horse, and the release of a coffee table book about the album. The Manitoba provincial government recently named a section of a highway near his hometown of Lynn Lake after the hit "Life Is a Highway."
The stretch of Highway 391 is being renamed Tom Cochrane's Life of a Highway. This is part of a series of Honours for the musician's influence on Canadian music.
Canadian Music Hall of Fame induction: Cochrane was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2003 for outstanding contribution to the greater recognition of Canadian music. The ceremony took place April 5, 2003, at Casino du Lac-Leamy in Gatineau, Quebec. The following night, Cochrane was honoured for his induction in a speech by Jeff Healey at the Juno Awards at the Corel Centre (now Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa). Cochrane closed the show by performing a medley of his hits and was joined onstage by host Shania Twain for the final song, "Life Is a Highway".
Order of Canada: In April 2008, Cochrane received one of the highest honours for a Canadian citizen when he was invested as an officer of the Order of Canada (the level companion of the Order of Canada is the highest honour, and several people originally invested as officers have been promoted to companions for continued contributions to charity and the arts, among other fields). Cochrane was honoured for a lifetime of charity work, his contribution to the arts and for being unabashedly Canadian.
Canada's Walk of Fame: In September 2009, Cochrane was inducted onto Canada's Walk of Fame. The induction was highlighted by a two-hour nationally televised gala at Toronto's Four Season's Center for the Performing Arts. Anne Murray hosted the event which also included the inductions of Kim Cattrall, Raymond Burr, Blue Rodeo, Dsquared2, Howie Mandel, Robert Munsch and Chantal Petitclerc.
Honorary colonel: In November 2007, Cochrane was formally invested as an honorary colonel (HCol) by the Royal Canadian Air Force's 409 "Nighthawks" Tactical Fighter Squadron. As part of his investiture weekend, Cochrane experienced his second flight in a CF-18.
Honorary doctorate: In May 2005, Cochrane received an honorary doctorate from Brandon University in Brandon, Manitoba. In addition, musician James Ehnes, journalist Henry Champ and actress Shirley Douglas received honorary doctorates from the university at the spring convocation held May 28, 2005.
Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame Tom Cochrane was inducted on May 9, 2014, Gil Moore formerly of the band Triumph made the presentation.
Canadian Music Industry Humanitarian Award: In March 2005, Cochrane received the Humanitarian Award at the Canadian Music Industry Association's (CMIA) gala dinner in Toronto during the annual Canadian Music Week Festival.
Allan Waters Humanitarian Award: In April 2013, Tom Cochrane received the award at the 2013 Juno Awards gala dinner.
Henry H. Knowles Humanitarian Award In May 2014, Tom Cochrane received this award from OPSEU.
Order of Manitoba In July 2015 Tom Cochrane received the Order Of Manitoba.
On October 31, 2016, the provincial legislature of Manitoba announced a 322-kilometre section of PR 391 connecting Lynn Lake and Thompson would be renamed Tom Cochrane’s Life Is A Highway.
Cochrane has been a longtime supporter of World Vision and has traveled to Africa several times. He has also served as the honorary chairman of the SuperWalk for Parkinsons and has been a proud supporter of WSPA, War Child, Amnesty International, and the Make Poverty History campaign.
Canada For Asia: On January 13, 2005, Cochrane, his wife Kathleene and Alex Lifeson spearheaded a benefit concert in support of tsunami relief in Asia. 150 Canadian stars appeared including Anne Murray, Bryan Adams, Blue Rodeo, The Tragically Hip, Oscar Peterson, Celine Dion, Rush and Barenaked Ladies. The concert, which was produced and televised by CBC TV, raised over $4 million in pledges.
Live 8 Concert: On July 2, 2005, Cochrane kicked off the Canadian edition of the Live 8 benefit concerts in Barrie, Ontario performing his hits "Life Is A Highway" and "No Regrets". The Live 8 concerts took place in the G8 states and in South Africa to pressure world leaders to drop the debt of the world's poorest nations, increase and improve aid, and negotiate fair trade rules in the interest of the poorest countries.
Winnipeg Key to the City: On June 12, 2012, Tom Cochrane received Winnipeg, Manitoba's, key to the city.
ALS Awareness Cochrane has supporter his wife who is active in fundraising concerts for ALS awareness. Cochrane's father died of Parkinson's disease.1974: Hang on to Your Resistance
1991: Mad Mad World
1995: Ragged Ass Road
1999: X-Ray Sierra
2006: No Stranger
2015: Take It Home
1997: Songs of a Circling Spirit
1979: Don't Fight It
1981: As Far as Siam
1984: Breaking Curfew
1986: Tom Cochrane & Red Rider (as Tom Cochrane & Red Rider)
1988: Victory Day (as Tom Cochrane & Red Rider)
1989: The Symphony Sessions (as Tom Cochrane & Red Rider)
1987: Over 60 Minutes with Red Rider
1989: Anthology 1980–1987
1993: Ashes to Diamonds (3-CD boxed set)
2002: Trapeze: The Collection
In 1985, Cochrane participated in the recording of the Northern Lights song "Tears Are Not Enough" with proceeds to Ethiopian famine relief.
In 1987, Cochrane produced the Grapes of Wrath's second album "Treehouse". It became their breakthrough album and included the hit song "Peace of Mind".
In 1992, Cochrane sang the Canadian national anthem before game 2 of the 1992 World Series at Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta when The Toronto Blue Jays beat The Atlanta Braves 5–4 on their way to winning their first World Series.
In the fall of 1989 Tom made his first of many trips to Africa with the faith based non-governmental organization World Vision
In the 1990s, Cochrane performed at the Kumbaya Festivals in Toronto. The annual concerts were AIDS/HIV fundraisers organized by singer/songwriter Molly Johnson.
On September 4, 1995, Cochrane's "I Wish You Well" became the first Canadian song to debut at #1 on the RPM Canadian Pop Charts.
in 1999, Country singer Chris Ledoux released a version of Cochrane's "Life Is a Highway".
In June 1999, Cochrane was involved in a light plane crash in Montreal, after his plane's engine stalled just after take-off. No one was injured.
In November 2002, Cochrane performed his song "Just Like Ali" before the legendary Muhammad Ali during a halftime event at a Toronto Argonauts CFL game at Skydome in Toronto.
In December 2003, Cochrane traveled to Kabul as the key musical guest for a CBC special called, Rick Mercer's Christmas in Kabul.
In 2005, Cochrane released the Holiday song "Christmas All The Time".
On January 13, 2005, Cochrane and his wife Kathleene spearheaded the "Canada For Asia" benefit concert in support of tsunami relief in Asia. The concert, which was produced and televised by CBC TV, raised over $4 million in pledges.
On July 2, 2005, Cochrane kicked off the Canadian edition of the Live 8 benefit concerts in Barrie, Ontario, performing his hits "Life Is A Highway" and "No Regrets". The Live 8 concerts took place in the G8 states and in South Africa to pressure world leaders to drop the debt of the world's poorest nations, increase and improve aid, and negotiate fair trade rules in the interest of the poorest countries.
In 2006, Rascal Flatts recorded Cochrane's "Life Is A Highway" for the animated Disney motion picture "Cars". The song became a major hit on both the Pop and Country charts in the U.S. and Canada.
Cochrane joined Rascal Flatts onstage to perform "Life Is A Highway" before a sold-out crowd at Rexall Place in Edmonton on February 24, 2007.
"Life Is A Highway" was also performed on "America's Got Talent" by Jason Pritchett in the Semi-final round in July 2007.
In 2007, Score Golf Magazine ranked Cochrane as Canada's #1 celebrity musician golfer. His close friends Gil Moore of Triumph and Alex Lifeson of Rush were ranked #2 and #4 respectively.
In December 2007, Cochrane inducted Canadian Superstar Gordon Lightfoot into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame at a ceremony in Toronto. Cochrane performed Lightfoot's "Early Morning Rain" during the tribute.
In February 2008, Cochrane and John Mellencamp toured Canada together performing at major arenas as part of a 12-date double-bill.
At the 2008 Juno Awards, Cochrane inducted Triumph into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. Cochrane's longtime friend Gil Moore is a member of the recently reunited Canadian rock band.
In 2008 & 2009, Cochrane performed free concerts at the Glen Abbey Golf Club in Toronto during the RBC Canadian Open PGA Tournament.
In 2008, Cochrane recorded "Old Man" for the Neil Young tribute album "Borrowed Tunes II".
In October 2008, Cochrane performed his song "Big League" at the Vancouver Canucks home opener in honour of Luc Bourdon, a promising young defenseman killed in a motorcycle accident in June 2008.
In July 2009, Cochrane was invited by his friend Mike Weir to play in the inaugural "Mike Weir Charity Classic" with Michael Jordan, Kevin Costner and several PGA Stars.
In 2008 & 2009, Cochrane qualified for and participated in the Canadian Senior Men's Golf Championship, the Ontario Senior Men's Golf Championship and the Ontario Men's Mid-Amateur Championship.
In September 2009, Cochrane was inducted onto Canada's Walk of Fame and received a star on the sidewalk in Toronto's theatre district.
In October 2009, Cochrane's Life is a Highway was voted #1 road song of all-time in the Econo Lodge "Travelin' Tunes" online survey of more than 20,000 people.
On November 23, 2009, Cochrane received SOCAN awards for 5 of his songs reaching more than 100,000 plays on Canadian radio including Lunatic Fringe, Big League, Boy Inside The Man and I Wish You Well.
On November 26, 2009, Cochrane joined World Vision President Dave Toycen to launch "Five for 5" campaign at a media event in Toronto. Cochrane urged Canadians to take 5 minutes to do 5 things to save a child's life.
On December 12, 2009, Cochrane & Red Rider performed at a massive outdoor celebration to conclude Day 44 of the Olympic Torch Relay on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper addressed the crowd during the event.
On February 15, 2010, Cochrane & Red Rider performed at Molson Canadian Hockey House in Vancouver during the 2010 Olympic Games. Cochrane was part of a legion of Canadian Music Stars who performed in Vancouver during the games.
On February 18, 2010, Cochrane was invited to be a part of the charity recording remake of K'Naan's song Wavin' Flag in support of the victims of the earthquake in Haiti. Canadian Music Hall of Famer Bob Ezrin produced Young Artists for Haiti's version of the song featuring many of Canada's biggest names in music. The song debuted at #1 on the Canadian music charts in March 2010.
On April 23, 2010, Cochrane performed at the 2010 Canadian Olympic Committee's Hall of Fame Induction dinner. Cochrane joined other Canadian stars including Sarah McLachlan, Simple Plan, Ginette Reno, the Canadian Tenors, Annie Villeneuve and Nikki Yanofsky.
In April 2010, Canadian Country singer Jaydee Bixby's version of Cochrane's song Boy Inside the Man made the Top 20 on the Canadian Country Music charts.
In May 2010, the debut CD by Andrew Cole, "Why We Wonder" is set for release. Cole is managed by Tom Cochrane's wife, Kathleene Cochrane. The album features a cover of Cochrane's "Out of My Head".
In July 2012, Cochrane performed at the 20th annual Telus World Skins Game in Halifax, Nova Scotia in support of the IWK Health Centre Foundation.
On July 14, 2015, Scott Walker, Republican Governor of Wisconsin, launched his presidential campaign as Republican Party nominee in Waukesha, Wisconsin using Rascal Flatts' version of "Life is a Highway" Cochrane requested that the song not be used again.