The sound of Canadian prog-rock heroes Rush is defined by the complex combination of Neil Peart’s hard-hitting percussion, Geddy Lee’s grooving basslines and Alex Lifeson’s delicious guitar licks. In many ways, it would be hard to say that Rush were not inspired by England’s finest hard-rock exports, Led Zeppelin.
Describing the first time he got to see the legendary rockers play, Lee said, “Led Zeppelin came to Toronto. I remember staying up all night to get tickets. I think I am right in saying that this album [their debut] had only just been released, and we went to see them. We were very young and, as such, a little bit on edge and eager to sample anything.”
“Then I heard ‘Communication Breakdown’, and a trigger went off in my head,” Lee continued. “That was my punk rock, really. The surge of power was something I had never experienced before. This was just the kind of explosion you can only really enjoy when you are young.”
It’s true that while Zeppelin admittedly nicked an awful lot of music from other musicians without giving them proper credit, there was just something about the band that was so awe-inspiring. Each of Zeppelin’s members were an absolute master of their instruments, from Plant’s voice to Bonham’s pounding drums.
Lee also remembers hearing the closing track of Zeppelin’s debut album that night. He said, “I saw them at a little place called the Rockpile. We were in the second row, and when they played ‘How Many More Times’, it just blew me away. It reaffirmed for me all the creative potential in blending hard rock with progressive music. John Paul Jones was the unsung hero in that band.”
“We’ve got tickets and waited out in the wee hours of the morning,” Lee added. “It only holds 1200 people max. We got into the second row, and I remember when they came out on the stage, they started with a song called ‘Train Kept On Rollin”, which is and old kind of Blues standard.”
Concluding on the concert that changed his life forever and dictated the direction that his future musical career would move in, Lee said, “They literally tore that house down because there were bits of plaster falling from the ceiling that night. To young guys, young musicians, that was just kind of a magical night. One of my favourite concert memories too.”