Geddy LeeVocals, bass, keyboards1968-2018
They're from Toronto, where they are held in very high esteem. In 1979, the Canadian government named Rush "Official Ambassadors Of Music."
Peart's daughter Selena was killed in a car accident in 1997. Tragedy struck again when his wife, Jacqueline, died of cancer the following year. Peart remarried in 2000.
Peart wrote most of the lyrics. Their original drummer, John Rutsey, left the band due to creative differences and complications with his diabetes. He became a bodybuilder.
Geddy Lee was born Gary Lee Weinrib. "Geddy" came from his grandmother's pronunciation of "Gary" - she had a Yiddish accent. Alex Lifeson was born Alexander Zivojinovic.
Cody - San Antonio, TX
Peart was for many years rumored to possess a doctorate degree. He did not, and never even completed high school. Despite this, he proved to be a very intelligent and literate songwriter.
Jeff - Haltom City, TX, for above 2
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. With no time left to contemplate, they didn't have much luck coming up with a name until John Rutsey's older brother yelled, "Why don't you call the band Rush?"
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 worldwide. No record company in Canada would produce Rush's music, so they formed their own record company named Moon Records. The single was released only 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.
Their early sound was mostly influenced by Cream and Led Zeppelin, but with the entry of drummer Neil Peart, the sound became more experimental and progressive, thanks to the technical abilities of the three members.
Peart's lyrics, especially early on, centered around mythological, sci-fi and fantasy themes. He never wrote about sex or drugs.
From the start of the band until 1998, they followed a pattern of releasing a live album after every four studio albums.
They won several Juno Awards, which are the Canadian equivalent of Grammys. They won Group Of The Year in 1977 and 1978, and were inducted into the Juno Hall Of Fame in 1993.
Alex first met Geddy in a history class at Fisherville Junior High. Their history teacher, Mr. Bissle, remembers Alex as being "very likable, fun, outgoing and levelheaded. I always had Alex sit right in front of me where I could reach him. Gary (Geddy) was more quiet and studious. He had his feet on the ground and was soft-spoken. The two of them would sit around the school playing their guitars all the time."
Mike - Mountlake Terrace, Washington, for above 7
Neil Peart pronounced his last name "Peert," which many outside of Canada mispronounce as "pert," including Jack Black's character, Dewey Finn, in the movie School of Rock
Jeff - Seaville, NJ
Peart peppered his lyrics with unusual words like "antennae" and "cathode rays." It felt right and got his message across, but wasn't always easy for the man who had to sing them. "When I go over them with Geddy, he'll complain that either I've gone overboard with the alliteration or there are certain vowel-consonant combinations that, from a singer's point of view, are very difficult to deliver because you have to think so much about the elocution of those syllables that you can't possibly deliver them with the necessary emotions," he told Bruce Pollock
. "There are things that Geddy suggests to me from a singer's point of view that help me a lot."
Lifeson has many interests outside the band. At various times, he owned and operated a small consumer product design engineering and manufacturing firm (The Omega Concern), was part-owner of a Toronto restaurant (The Orbit Room), and is a licensed aircraft pilot and motorcycle operator.
Lee has produced albums for various other bands, including Rocket Science.
Peart used a famously elaborate drum kit, which ranged in size from merely large to truly elephantine. His drumming style was eclectic: he cited influences ranging from The Who's Keith Moon to jazz drummer Buddy Rich. He produced Burning For Buddy - A Tribute To The Music Of Buddy Rich in 1995, and Burning For Buddy 2 in 1997.
Peart wrote six books: Drum Techniques of Rush (1985), More Drum Techniques of Rush (1989), The Masked Rider: Cycling in West Africa (1999), Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road (2002), Traveling Music: Playing Back the Soundtrack to My Life and Times (2004), Roadshow: Landscape With Drums: A Concert Tour by Motorcycle (2005 - this book documents his travels during Rush's 2004 R30 tour of North America and Europe).
Neil also released a DVD in 2002 titled Neil Peart - A Work in Progress. This 2-DVD box documents the "work in progress" of recording Rush's Test for Echo album, as well as Neil himself in the studio. Neil's special approach to drums is featured in songs from "Test," also a 4-camera shoot as Neil lays down the fiery creative drumming for which he is known. Other topics include a discussion of Neil's DW drum set, his approach to odd times, playing with a vocalist & a "guided tour" of Neil's warm-up routine.
Geddy Lee made a guest performance on Bob and Doug McKenzie's comedy album Great White North
singing a song called "Take Off."
Meek - V-Town, NY
Geddy Lee and his daughter Kyla appeared in the episode "Will You Be My Lorelai, Gilmore?" of the TV show Gilmore Girls
, but he was partially hidden by a crowd of people.
Kirk - Ocala, FL
Rustley left the band shortly after their debut album was released in 1974. He was diabetic and was concerned about how the tours would affect his health. When he left Rush, he left the music business altogether. He died in his sleep on May 11, 2008, apparently of a heart attack that was the result of his diabetes. He was 55.
Bertrand - Paris, France
Lifeson is married to his first girlfriend, and Lee is married to his high-school sweetheart. Peart was married for 22 years before his wife died in 1997.
Geddy Lee is famous for playing Rickenbacker basses and Fender jazz basses. He played a double-neck guitar/bass live for the song "A Passage To Bangkok
," where he would switch from the bass neck to the guitar neck to play rhythm guitar during Alex's guitar solo.
It is also notable that Lee plays bass pedals and synth pedals with his feet as he plays bass and sings, as well as switching his hands from bass guitar to keys on different keyboards/synths.
Patrick - Santa Maria, CA
In 2014, Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart earned honorary Doctorates of Music degrees from Nipissing University (North Bay, ON, Canada). They were unable to attend the ceremony because of poor weather conditions, but Lee and Lifeson posted videos of their speeches online.
Lee said: "This is a situation I honestly never thought I'd be in. Imagine a high school dropout, and a rock musician no less, receiving such an honor. Finally my mother's dream finally comes true - she has a doctor for a son, oy vey!" while Lifeson joked: "My intended first act as a doctor was to write scripts for everyone, but apparently I'm not that kind of doctor."
Jeffrey - Fort Worth, TX
Geddy Lee is a connoisseur and collector of classic wines. When Classic Rock magazine asked him which wines his bandmates would be, he replied: "Alex Lifeson would be a Zinfandel, overripe and alcoholic. And Neil Peart's a claret – one that needs aging, softening up around the edges."
Both of Geddy Lee's parents were Jewish Holocaust survivors. First imprisoned at Auschwitz when they were 13 years old, they were separated to Bergen-Belsen and Dachau. When the war ended four years later and the Allies liberated the camps, Geddy's father set out in search of his mother and found her at a displaced persons camp. They married there and eventually immigrated to Canada.
Neil Peart developed brain cancer in 2016 but kept the news to his inner circle. He died on January 7, 2020, but the announcement wasn't made until three days later. The last Rush tour was their R40 Live trek in 2015.
Lee, Lifeson and Peart worked very well together, demonstrating how collaborative songwriting could be done at a very high level. There were no ego trips.
"I really feel a lot of satisfaction with what I did as a guitarist on these songs," Lifeson told Songfacts in 2022
. "Just trying to make them great, trying to get out of the way of things, and trying to be as invisible and camouflaged without giving up on what I thought were valuable things to the development of the songs. I guess that's the sign of a songwriter rather than a guitarist."