Geddy Lee (vocals, bass, keyboards)
Alex Lifeson (guitar)
John Rutsey (drums) 1968-1974
Neil Peart (drums) 1974-
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They're from Toronto. In 1979 the Canadian government named them "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 writes 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. (thanks, Cody - San Antonio, TX)
Peart was for many years rumored to possess a doctorate degree. He does not, and has never even completed high school. Despite this, he does appear to be one of the more intelligent and literate of songwriters. (thanks, 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 originally center around mythological, Sci-fi and fantasy themes. He never writes about sex or drugs.
Every 4 studio albums they made were followed by a live album.
They have 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." (thanks, Mike - Mountlake Terrace, Washington, for above 7)
Neil Peart pronounces his last name "Peert". He pronounces his first name "Neel." (thanks, Jeff - Haltom City, TX)
In the movie School of Rock, Jack Black's character, Dewey Finn, mispronounces Neil Peart's last name as "pert." (thanks, Jeff - Seaville, NJ)
Lifeson owns and operates a small consumer product design engineering and manufacturing firm (The Omega Concern), is 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 uses a famously elaborate drum kit, which has ranged in size from merely large to truly elephantine. His drumming style is eclectic: he cites 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 has written 6 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. (thanks, Mike - Mountlake Terrace, Washington, for above 5)
Geddy Lee made a guest performance on Bob and Doug McKenzie's comedy album Great White North singing a song called "Take Off." (thanks, 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. (thanks, 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. (thanks, 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. (thanks, Patrick - Santa Maria, CA)
JJ Burnel of The Stranglers
JJ talks about The Stranglers' signature sound - keyboard and bass - which isn't your typical strain of punk rock.
A popular contemporary folk singer, Williams still remembers the sticky note that changed her life in college.