Geddy Lee is a true Canadian legend. Whether he’s sitting behind home plate at Toronto Blue Jays games or skewering himself with the South Park crew, Lee is the true embodiment of the nice Jewish boy from Canada who somehow made it big as a rock star. The Rush bassist even remembered the pushback he got from his family when the band were first trying to make it as teenagers.
“We were rehearsing in my basement and playing with these guys,” Lee recalled in the documentary Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage. “They weren’t Jewish guys. We were really loud, and it didn’t sound anything like music to my family. They just thought I was nuts. They thought I was probably a drug-taking freak. So they were scared: they were freaked out. They didn’t know what to do or how to handle it.”
Eventually, Lee would make his family proud with his music, even if it took a little while. Rush became one of Canada’s most popular bands, being the rare act who was able to make the leap out of the great white north and establish fanbases around the world, particularly in America and Britain. Despite this, Rush always found their way back to the country where all three members were born.
Starting with 1980’s Permanent Waves, Rush began recording at Le Studio in Quebec. Their next three albums – Moving Pictures, Signals, and Grace Under Pressure – were all recorded there as well. Both Lee and guitarist Alex Lifeson continue to reside in Canada, and when Lee was asked by Classic Rock who he believed the most underrated band was, he went with a Canadian national treasure.
“The Tragically Hip, from Canada, had huge, godlike stature at home but nowhere else,” Lee explained to the magazine. “They had this perfect blend of simple, twin-guitar rock n’ roll and very evocative, thought-provoking lyrics.”
The Tragically Hip were one of Canada’s most popular bands throughout the 1990s and beyond. However, their momentum came to a dramatic halt when lead singer Gord Downie was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in 2015. The band continued as long as they could, and Downie eventually passed away in 2017, Rush expressed their grief in a statement. “It’s a sad, sad day for Canada and Canadian music,” the band wrote at the time. “Rest in peace, Gord… and thank you.”
Check out The Tragically Hips’ ‘New Orleans Is Sinking’ down below.