- Inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2015
- Certified Platinum Album - The Trinity Session (1988)
Cowboy Junkies began their singular journey in 1985 when Michael Timmins (guitar), Peter Timmins (drums) and bassist Alan Anton, one of Michael's oldest friends, began jamming in a garage. Michael and Alan had tried their luck with a couple of other bands, Hunger Project and Germinal, and had recently returned to Toronto after several years in New York and London. The next step was to find a singer. "I never wanted to be a musician," Margo Timmins confides, "but one day Mike asked me to sing. I said yes, but only if I didn't have to do it in front of the other guys. So I sang with Mike for a couple of days, and then he asked, ‘Um, do you think it'd be okay if we brought the other guys in now?' I said, ‘Well, okay. I guess so, I mean, if we have to.'"
The band released its debut, Whites Off Earth Now!!, in 1986 on their own Latent Recordings label. Hypnotic and languorous, it revealed Michael's fascination with Robert Johnson, Lightnin' Hopkins and other seminal blues artists. The band toured the Southern and Southwestern US in support of the record, soaking up the music of Waylon Jennings, Hank Williams and Jimmie Rodgers along the way, which, in turn, inspired their second album, The Trinity Session, self-released in 1988.
Recorded with a single microphone in Toronto's Church of the Holy Trinity in one 14-hour session – at a cost of $250 – The Trinity Session featured spare, lilting originals alongside Jennings, Williams and Patsy Cline covers, as well as a haunting version of the Velvet Underground classic "Sweet Jane." With "Sweet Jane" getting considerable airplay on college and commercial radio and reviewers lauding the band's fresh sound, word soon began to spread. Before long, the Junkies had signed to RCA Records, which reissued The Trinity Session to a wider audience and platinum sales.
Their subsequent albums – The Caution Horses (1990), Black Eyed Man (1992), Pale Sun, Crescent Moon (1993), Lay It Down (1996) (which featured the Top 20 Modern Rock hit "A Common Disaster" and earned Cowboy Junkies a gold record), Miles From Our Home (1998), Open (2001) and One Soul Now (2004) – chronicle the band's evolution, a process Michael describes as gradual and organic. "It's become much easier to communicate musically over the years as we've all grown as musicians and of course, we have twenty years of shows behind us now. We're able to bring greater dynamics and infinite variety to the music as a result."
In 2005, Cowboy Junkies released Early 21st Century Blues, an album principally comprised of covers which Rolling Stone proclaimed "closely revisits the career-making Trinity, - hushed electric guitars, brushed drums and Margo Timmins' husky moans. It all adds up to a concept album about war that screams with a whisper." The band's most recent studio effort, At The End of Paths Taken (2007) was hailed by Paste as an album of "an alluring, gently haunting quality inspired by reflections on family and world dynamics and mortality."