History of RUSH


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History of RUSH

PROLOGUE: by Steve Gett

In August, 1968, top British session guitarist Jimmy Page was in something of a dilemma. For the past two years, he had been playing with the legendary Yardbirds, whose previous line-ups had boasted such worthy talents as Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck. However, after Beck quit to pursue a solo career at the end of 1968, Page had been left to carry the group through the next 18 months, until it finally crumbled under his feet.

While Jimmy was eager to start a new band, the Yardbirds were already booked on a 10-date Scandanavian tour the following month. Consequently, he began a desperate search for accompanying musicians, soon hooking up with John Paul Jones, John Bonham and Robert Plant. Over the ensuing months the group was to change its name to Led Zeppelin and go on to become Britain's most celebrated rock act.

Meanwhile, as Jimmy Page unveiled his New Yardbirds in Europe, on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, in the suburbs of Toronto, a young Canadian guitar player, named Alex Lifeson, was busy forming Rush. Although Page was fortunate in enjoying immediate acceptance with his outfit, it necessitated years of hard graft and extreme patience before Lifeson and his band made their mark.

After battling fiercely to break out of Canada, Rush were forced to embark on endless US road outings before garnering major recognition and acclaim. For many years, radio stations ignored their music, and, in the pre-video age, touring was the only means of gaining exposure. Despite the long wait, Rush were to end up selling more records and playing to more people than Zeppelin ever did.

Attempting to parallel the histories of Rush and Led Zeppelin would prove an impossible, and extremely futile, exercise. Yet, it's interesting to observe that each band basically encountered success under its own terms. For both, the major forte was an essential high quality of musicianship, combined with a diverse range of musical styles. Never was there any compromise in their overall approach on the road to fame and fortune.

Led Zeppelin are, of course, sadly no more. However, Rush are still going strong and continue to warrant recognition as Canada's finest hard rock export. Throughout their illustrious history, the group has released a succession of highly innovative albums and delighted concert audiences around the world. Their work has been admired for its breadth of reach, technical elegance, and for the confidence with which it has combined great boldness with artistic poise.

THE MAIN STORY: by Matt Lupoli

Rush is the only band that has Geddy Lee's wail, Alex Lifeson's blazing guitar licks, and Neil Peart's furious drumbeats. It is one of the greatest rock bands of all time. It was started in Willowdale, Toronto, Canada in the Spring of 1968. This was the time of bands such as "The Yardbirds", "Cream", "Led Zeppelin", "Jimi Hendrix", and "The Who". They played the style of these bands. The band members were 15 at the time. It was started by Alex Zivojinovich and John Rutsey. Alex changed his name to Alex Lifeson because his real last name was too hard to say and spell. The name "Lifeson" is an English translation of "Zivojinovich." In August of '68, the formal lineup was Jeff Jones on bass and lead vocals, John Rutsey on drums and backing vocals, and Alex Lifeson on guitars and backing vocals. They first got a job to play at a coffee house called the "Coff-In." While they had dreamed of playing, they had neglected to come up with a name for their group. They all went to John Rutsey's basement and they didn't have much luck coming up with a name. Then John Rutsey's older brother yelled, " Why don't you call the band Rush?" So "Rush" was the title of the band. In September of '68, Jeff Jones (bassist/vocalist) was replaced by Gary Lee Weinrib. Gary's grandmother had a Yiddish accent, and when she called him Gary it sounded like she was calling him Geddy, so he changed his name to Geddy Lee. Then in January of '69, Lindy Young joined the band and he played keyboards and back-up guitars. Soon after, the band was changed to "Hadrian." In May of '69, Geddy Lee (bassist/vocalist) quit Hadrian and made his own band called "Ogilvie." He was replaced in Hadrian by Joe Perna. In June of '69, Geddy Lee changed his band's name from "Ogilvie" to "Judd." In July of '69 Lindy Young (keyboardist) left Hadrian to join Judd and then Hadrian split up. Then in September of '69, Judd split up also. Immediatly after, Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and John Rutsey formed together again as Rush. In February of '71, Mitch Bossi joined Rush. He was a 2nd guitarist in the band (along with Alex Lifeson.) He quit in May of '71. Then there were only 3 members left.

In 1973, Rush decided to release their first single before they released an album. On side A, there was a song called "Not Fade Away." Not Fade Away was a cover of a Buddy Holly song. On side B, there was a Lee/Rutsey song called "You Can't Fight It." This single wasn't released world wide. Not a single record company in Canada would produce Rush's music. So Rush made their own record company which was called Moon Records. The single was only released in Toronto and other parts of Canada for $0.69. It was often given away for free. It is very rare, which makes this single worth a fortune today.

The single was not as successful as they thought it would be. In 1974, when the band members were 20, they started making their first album anyway. It was simply titled "Rush." The first album was soon released and the band went on tour in Canada. The album did not travel much outside of Toronto and the band was still not well known.

Alex Lifeson / John Rutsey / Geddy LeeA copy of the album made it's way down to WMMS in Cleveland. There it was listened to by a DJ that was named Donna Halper. The song "Working Man" sounded good, so she put it on the air. Emediatley, the radio station received calls from people asking when the new Led Zeppelin album was coming out. People thought that this band sounded very closely related to Led Zeppelin. They even thought that Geddy Lee sounded like a clone to Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant.

As the album was played on the air, it got more and more popular in Cleveland. Donna Halper sent for some more copies of the album so she could give them to some record stores. These copies were quickly sold. Soon, someone from Mercury Records heard the album on WMMS and liked it. Mercury then re-released the Moon Records album. Now that it was released world wide, Rush became more well-known. Click here to see Donna Halper's version of this story.

Rush became more popular in Canada and the U.S. Unfortunatly, John Rutsey (drummer) had different ideas about the band's future than Alex and Geddy did. His diabetes were a strong argument against extended tours and he just wasn't excited about playing in the band anymore. He quit the band at the end of the Canadian tour and before they could even go on tour in the United States.

If the band was going to go on tour in the United States, they were going to need a new drummer. That month the band held auditions for a new drummer and they met up with 22-year-old Neil Peart. Neil was from St. Catharines, which was a town just south of Toronto and across Lake Ontario. He had been playing the drums since he was 13. He played in a few high school bands and then he moved to London in the early 70's. He worked at a shop called "The Great Fog", but he then became disillusioned by the British music scene. He later returned back to Canada. Geddy and Alex liked Neil's drumming because he had a British drumming style that was similiar to the style of Keith Moon. Neil joined the band on July 29, 1974. The new drummer Neil Peart first played during the U.S. tour of the first album. The band learned that Neil thought up very good lyrics that had to do with science fiction themes, and his drumming was much better than John Rutsey's. This new formal lineup was their permanent lineup.

In 1975, they released their second album which was titled "Fly By Night." In this album, they started to move away from the Led Zeppelin style so they could make a style of their own. This was also the album when Neil became an integral member of the band. The album was an even greater success than the first album. The best song on the album was "By-Tor & the Snow Dog" which was an imaginative science fantasy tale that was set to music. Geddy played the part of By-Tor and Alex played the part of the Snow Dog. Later that same year, they came out with their third album which was titled "Caress of Steel."

In 1976, they came out with their fourth album. It was titled "2112." After it was released, the world began to take notice of Rush. Often called "Rush's break-through album", it was a huge success. It probably featured Rush's best song ever which was called "2112". It was an epic song about the galaxy in the year 2112 A.D. It takes place at the "Temples of Syrinx." A bunch of priests live there and they have a strong belief that they are all equal and they do not believe in individualism. All of the people who live there are banded together under the Red Star of the Solar Federation. One of the people who lives in the temples finds a guitar. Guitars had been banished for decades and he had never seen one before. He learns how to play it and he shows it to the priests. The high priest knows what it is and he thinks it is evil and that it destroyed the elder race of man. He becomes enraged with anger so he rejects it and destroys it.

Alex / Neil / Geddy

During this time, Rush came up with their logo. It first appeared on their "2112" album. It looks like a red pentagram with a nakid man on it. This red pentagram is the evil red star of the Federation in the "2112" song. The nakid man is the hero of the story. Neil said that all it means is the abstract man against the mass [sic]. The red star symbolizes any collectivist mentality.

Later that year, the band decided to make a 5th album. Geddy, Alex, and Neil thought that they had finished the first chapter so they decided to come out with a live album. They came out with the album "All The World's A Stage" which was recorded live in Toronto. It included all of their best songs from their first four albums. From then on, for every 4 studio albums they made, they would come out with a live album.

In 1977, Rush came out with their 6th album which was titled "A Farewell To Kings." This album reached the Top 40 in the U.S. and Great Britain. One of the songs on this album was titled "Closer To The Heart." The fans loved this song and Rush even included it on their 2nd and 3rd live albums. Some people think that "Closer To The Heart" could be the ultimate Rush song. It is the song that describes the band. For example, "Closer To The Heart" is to Rush as "Stairway To Heaven" is to Led Zeppelin.

Neil Peart / Geddy Lee / Alex Lifeson

They later made a sequel to "A Farewell To Kings" called "Hemispheres." After 1978's Hemispheres, Rush achieved even greater popularity with 1980's "Permanent Waves". Neil Peart was no longer writing epic songs. He was writing shorter, less sprawling compositions. The single "The Spirit of Radio" even became a major hit.

In 1981 they released "Moving Pictures". It was probably their greatest album ever. Rush scored another hit of sorts with "Tom Sawyer," which probably became their most well-known song. Moving Pictures became their best-selling album ever. As the 1980s continued, Rush grew into a phenomenally popular live draw. This can be seen in 1982's "Signals", 1984's "Grace Under Pressure", and 1985's "Power Windows", which continued to sell millions of copies.

In the late 80's, Rush started to cut down on their tour dates and release albums with less hard rock and more synthesizers. This can be seen in 1987's "Hold Your Fire", 1989's live album "A Show Of Hands", and 1989's "Presto." At the dawn of the 1990s, Rush returned to the style of the heavier rock from their first albums. They released 1991's "Roll the Bones" and 1993's "Counterparts." Both albums reached the Top Three on the U.S. album charts.

Over the years, the band members found time to raise families. Geddy Lee got married and had a son and a daughter and he had formerly expressed interest in running a minor league baseball team when he wasn't touring. Neil Peart got married and he had a daughter. Alex Lifeson got married and had 2 sons. He also spent time as a licensed pilot when he wasn't on tour.

They also won a lot of awards. Their awards are:


Juno Awards:

  • Most promising group of the year: 1974

  • Group of the year: 1977,1978

  • Best Heavy Metal Album: 1991

  • Best album cover: 1991,1992

  • Best Hard Rock Album: 1992

  • Hall of Fame: 1993

Grammy awards:

Runner up in Best Rock Instrumental: 1982, 1992

Hall of Fames:

Rush was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1994 for being influential.

In 1996, Alex Lifeson got together with some guys from bands like "I Mother Earth" and "Primus" so he could release his own solo album. The name of the band and the name of the album was "Victor". His son Adrian played in the album also. Later that year, Rush came out with their 19th album. It was titled "Test For Echo." It was a success. They had made it after their 18-month vacation. That was the longest vacation for them. Even 6 months is a long time for the band members.

In August of 1997, Neil Peart's daughter and only child died in a car accident. He had to take a break for a while and so did the rest of the band. Then, they started mixing up their 20th album, which was also their 4th live album. It was titled "Different Stages". During the mix, Neil Peart's wife died of cancer in July. This was a terrible event for the band and the fans. The album came out on November 10, 1998. The album was a 3 disc set with 2 discs from the their last 2 tours and the 3rd disc from the "A Farewell To Kings" tour in 1978. The fans loved the album. But the fans also wanted to know if there was going to be a Different Stages Tour or possibly a new studio album coming out in the near future.

There was no tour for Different Stages. Many fans were without any official news for many months as Rush's hiatus raged on. Nobody knew what was going on with the band.

Then in the spring of 2000, official news was released saying that Neil had gotten back together with Rush. They planned to get back into the studio in October of 2000, after Geddy Lee would complete his first solo album.

But, In September of 2000, Neil got remarried in a small private ceremony. This was great news to the fans. Of course this pushed back the date of when Rush would get back into the studio. Meanwhile, Geddy was still working on his solo album. Geddy had united with old friend Ben Mink to write some songs with him. This resulted in Geddy's first solo album entitled "My Favorite Headache" which was released in the fall of 2000. After a short mall tour in support of the album, Geddy announced that he would later get back with the band in the winter to start work on a new Rush album.

The band got back together and in May of 2002 they made their triumphant return with "Vapor Trails". A highly anticipated and successful tour kicked off in June and lasted until November. In the fall of 2003, Rush released "Rush In Rio", a live album and DVD recorded at the last date of the Vapor Trails tour in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The set (the DVD in particular) was highly successful.

In 2004, following the huge success of their return to touring, Rush embarked on their 30th anniversary tour. Released during the tour was an 8-song EP featuring covers of songs by bands such as Cream, The Who, The Buffalo Springfield, and The Yardbirds. The EP was named "Feedback" and it was a tribute to the bands that Geddy, Alex, and Neil covered in their first bands when they were 13 and 14 years old. At the same time, Rush was featured on the live concert DVD "Toronto Rocks", which was filmed at SARSfest, July 30, 2003. The festival was put on to raise money for the Toronto SARS scare and featured other popular bands such as The Guess Who, AC/DC, and The Rolling Stones.

EPILOGUE: by Matt Lupoli

Alex Lifeson/Neil Peart/Geddy Lee

2005 marked the release of a brand new DVD set entitled "R30 - 30th Anniversary World Tour." The first disc featured a concert video from their sold out show in Frankfurt, Germany during the 30th Anniversary World Tour. The second disc was a treasure chest collection of old music videos, interviews, and various other tid bits. The deluxe edition of the DVD set also had an audio version of the Frankfurt concert (not sold seperately) as well as signature guitar picks and a souvenir backstage pass. The DVD release was very successful. Their next release (scheduled for June 2006) is a new DVD box set featuring the concert videos "Exit... Stage Left", "Grace Under Pressure Tour", and "A Show Of Hands" which have been discontinued on VHS for several years. The new set is entitled "Replay X3."

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This site was last updated 09/30/06