“It wasn’t really about being in a rock band”: The challenge Alex Lifeson had playing with Rush

Meta Description: Discover how Geddy Lee and Neil Peart transformed Rush, bringing longevity and unparalleled musical prowess to the iconic prog-rock band.

The Impact of Geddy Lee and Neil Peart on Rush’s Longevity

Although Geddy Lee and Neil Peart weren’t technically original members of Rush, their arrivals marked a significant upheaval in the band’s trajectory. Suddenly, this was a group with more longevity than perhaps any others out there, thanks to Peart’s drumming prowess and Lee’s ability to deliver guitar playing that seemed to hold its own melodic charm.

Alex Lifeson’s Perspective on Rush’s Transformation

As a founding member, guitarist Alex Lifeson watched and experienced such a transformation first-hand, all while focusing on his own technical prowess. Growing up studying figures like Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, and Jimmy Page, Lifeson quickly learned who was easy to replicate and who wasn’t. He mentioned in a 2011 interview with Vintage Guitar that Page was his “absolute guitar hero” and appreciated Steve Hackett for “the way he worked melodies into the context of the music.” Lifeson explained how his development centered around simplicity in the early days: “Clapton’s solos seemed a little easier and more approachable,” he said. “I remember sitting at my record player and moving the needle back and forth to get the solo in ‘Spoonful.’ But there was nothing I could do with Hendrix.”

Geddy Lee’s Early Inspirations and Focus on Bass Guitar

For a band like Rush, which holds an ethos that Lee once summarized as “more is more,” being a guitarist requires not just adeptness but loyalty and the ability to keep up. Complexity is key in this arena, and exploding on stage, so to speak, was their entire appeal. For Lee, the bass guitar wasn’t just a necessary piece to the puzzle; it was an integral part that had the power to facilitate entire melodies.

Lee had become enamored with the bass guitar from an early age, finding inspiration in performers like Roy Orbison, particularly his song ‘Pretty Woman’ and the “tone of the guitar” in the song which “stood out” to him. “It changed my life,” Lee recalled, remembering the first time he played guitar as a child, “that stupid little guitar.”

The Role of Commitment and Technicality in Rush’s Success

What started as a lighthearted interest soon became a clear calling for Lee, who became transfixed with the art form. Lifeson noted, “Right from the very beginning, [Lee] was always more of a focused musician. It wasn’t really about being in a rock band; he always set a high standard for his own playing.” Lee’s immense technicality and loyalty to his craft made Lifeson feel challenged in his own contributions, as Lee “worked hard on every aspect of being a musician.” Lifeson described this dynamic, saying: “One of the challenging things for me, as a guitarist playing with him, and [Peart], for that matter, is how active they’ve always been.”

The Unmatched Chemistry and Influence of Rush

Instead of growing frustrated at their commitment, Lifeson was astounded. He remarked, “It’s amazing. The little melodies that he incorporates and the little things that he’s doing that a lot of other bass players perhaps don’t do [is amazing].” Every member of Rush might be extraordinary in their own right and keep to their own high standards, but, in the beginning, it was their willingness and synergy that led the way for them to become the leaders of an entire genre.

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