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Rush - Biography







Rush is the only band that boasts 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. Rush 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." Rush emulated the style of these bands. Rush was formed by Alex Zivojinovich and John Rutsey, who were 15 years old at the time. Alex changed his name to Alex Lifeson because his real last name was too hard to spell and pronounce. "Lifeson" is the English translation of "Zivojinovich." In August of '68, Rush's formal line-up had 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. Contemplating in John Rutsey's basement, they didn't have much luck coming up with a name until John's older brother yelled, "Why don't you call the band Rush?" So "Rush" became the name 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 as if she was calling him Geddy. And so Gary Lee Weinrib became Geddy Lee. Lindy Young joined the band in January of '69 playing keyboards and guitars. Soon after, the band changed its name to "Hadrian." In May of '69, Geddy Lee (bassist/vocalist) quit Hadrian to form his own band "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 (keyboards & guitars) left Hadrian to join Judd. Hadrian subsequently split up. Judd soon followed by splitting up in September. Immediately after, Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and John Rutsey re-formed as Rush. In February of '71, Mitch Bossi was added as a 2nd guitarist in the band. He quit in May of '71. Only 3 members remained.

In 1973, Rush decided to release their first single before they released an album. Side A was a cover of a Buddy Holly song called "Not Fade Away." On side B was a Lee/Rutsey song called "You Can't Fight It." This single wasn't released world wide. No record company in Canada would produce Rush's music. So Rush made their own record company named 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.

"Not Fade Away"/"You Can't Fight It" was not as successful as Rush had hoped. In 1974, when the members were 20, the band began making its first album anyway. Simply titled "Rush," the 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. A copy of the album made it's way down to WMMS in Cleveland. There it was listened to by a DJ by the name of Donna Halper. The song "Working Man" sounded good for her to put it on the air. Immediately, the radio station received calls from people asking when the new Led Zeppelin album was coming out. People thought this band sounded very similar to Led Zeppelin. Even thought Geddy Lee sounded to them like a Robert Plant clone. The album gained more and more popularity in Cleveland from its airplay. Donna Halper sent for more copies of the album to give them to 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 the album was released world wide, popularity in Canada and the U.S grew. Unfortunately, John Rutsey (drums) had different ideas about the band's future than Alex and Geddy. His diabetes was a strong argument against extended tours and he simply wasn't excited about playing in the band anymore. He quit the band at the end of the Canadian tour, prior to their upcoming tour of the United States.

If the band was going to go on tour in the United States, they would need a new drummer. That month the band held auditions for a new drummer and 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 the age of 13. He played in a few high school bands before moving to London in the early 70's. There, Neil worked at a shop called "The Great Fog." He soon became disillusioned with the British music scene and later returned to Canada. Geddy and Alex liked Neil's drumming because he had a British drumming style similar to that of Keith Moon. Neil officially joined the band on July 29, 1974. Neil Peart debuted as Rush's drummer during the U.S. tour supporting the first album. Geddy and Alex eventually learned that Neil thought up very good lyrics having to do with science fiction themes. They felt his drumming was much better than John Rutsey's. This new formal line-up would become their permanent line-up.

Rush released its second album, "Fly By Night," in 1975. On this album, they began to move away from the Led Zeppelin style and began to develop a style of their own. It was also on this album when Neil became a more integral member of the band. The album was an even greater success than the first album. Probably the best song on the album was "By-Tor & the Snow Dog," which was an imaginative science fantasy tale set to music. Geddy played the part of By-Tor and Alex played the part of the Snow Dog. Later that same year, Rush released its third album entitled "Caress of Steel."

In 1976, Rush released "2112," often considered Rush's "breakthrough" album. The world began to take notice of Rush as the album was a huge success. It featured what is arguably Rush's best song ever, "2112". The song was an epic about the galaxy set in the year 2112 AD. A group of priests, residing within the "Temples of Syrinx," have a strong belief they are all equal and do not believe in individualism. All of the residents in the Temples are banded together under the Red Star of the Solar Federation. One of the men living in the Temples finds a guitar. Guitars had been banished for decades and he had never seen one before, but learns how to play it and shows it to the priests. The high priest knows what it is and thinks it is evil. He believes it destroyed the elder race of man. The high priest becomes enraged with and rejects and destroys the guitar.

During this time, Rush developed what would be their band logo. First appearing on the aforementioned "2112" album, the logo is a red pentagram with a naked man in front of it. This red pentagram is the evil Red Star of the Federation in the song "2112." The naked man is the hero of the story. Neil stated it stands for the abstract man against the mass [sic]. The red star symbolizes any collectivist mentality. Later in 1976, the band released "All The World's A Stage." Recorded live in Toronto, the album included their best songs from the first four albums. Geddy, Alex, and Neil felt that they had finished the first chapter. From then on, every 4 studio albums they made were followed by a live album.

In 1977, Rush released "A Farewell To Kings," their sixth album. It reached the Top 40 in the U.S. and Great Britain. One of the songs, "Closer To The Heart," struck a chord in fans' hearts. As a testament to this, Rush went on to include it on their 2nd and 3rd live albums. Some fans feel "Closer To The Heart" could be the ultimate Rush song as it is the song that best describes the band. For example, "Closer To The Heart" is to Rush as "Stairway To Heaven" is to Led Zeppelin.

In 1978, Rush released a "sequel" to "A Farewell To Kings" called "Hemispheres," as the songs on "Hemispheres" were a continuation of the epic songs on "A Farewell to Kings." Rush went on to achieve even greater popularity with 1980's "Permanent Waves." Neil Peart was no longer writing epic songs, but rather shorter, less sprawling compositions. The single "The Spirit of Radio" became a major hit. In 1981, the album "Moving Pictures" was released, becoming their best-selling album ever. It is also considered by many to be their greatest album to date. Rush scored another hit of sorts with "Tom Sawyer," which went on to become their new "Stairway to Heaven." As the 1980s continued, Rush grew into a phenomenally popular live draw. 1982's "Signals," 1984's "Grace Under Pressure," and 1985's "Power Windows," further solidified their success, each selling millions of copies.

In the late 80's, Rush began to cut down on tour dates and incorporated more synthesizers and less hard rock into their albums. Examples of the latter can be heard on 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 early albums with the release of 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 while he wasn't touring. Neil Peart also got married and he had a daughter. Alex Lifeson got married and had two sons. He also spent time as a licensed pilot when he wasn't on tour. In 1996, Alex Lifeson got together with some guys from bands like "I Mother Earth" and "Primus" and released a solo album under the band name "Victor." His son Adrian played on the album. Later that year, after their longest break of 18 months, Rush released their 19th album entitled "Test For Echo." It was a success.

In August of 1997, Neil Peart's daughter and only child died in a car accident. He and the band decided to take a break to grieve his loss. After the break, they began mixing up their 20th album, "Different Stages," which was also their fourth live album. During the mix, Neil was struck with a second blow of tragedy when his wife died of cancer in July. This was a terrible event for the band and the fans. The album was released on November 10, 1998 as a three disc set with two discs from the their last two tours and the third 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 in the near future. The band said in interviews that nothing was planned yet, mainly because Neil was still grieving the loss of his wife and daughter. It was also said that Rush was in no danger of breaking up and should be making albums for many more years to come.

Much to fans' delight, Rush did in fact release another album in July of 2002. "Vapor Trails" is the 21st album from the band and their 17th studio album. The first single, "One Little Victory," has received steady airplay and positive response. Their tour of the US will last through August and September of 2002.