Biography

Rush

Members: Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, Neil Peart

Active: 1968-present

HISTORY

Rush is a Canadian progressive rock band comprising bassist, keyboardist and vocalist Geddy Lee, guitarist Alex Lifeson, and drummer and lyricist Neil Peart. Rush was formed in the summer of 1968, in Willowdale, Ontario (now part of Toronto) by Lifeson, Lee, and John Rutsey. Peart (from St. Catharines, Ontario) replaced Rutsey on drums in July of 1974, two weeks before the group's first U.S. tour, to complete the present lineup. Since the release of their self-titled debut album in 1974 the band has become known for their instrumental virtuosity, complex compositions and erudite lyrics. Rush's three decades of continued success under the lineup of Lee, Lifeson, and Peart has earned the band the respect of their musical peers. Rush has influenced various modern artists such as Metallica, The Smashing Pumpkins, and Primus, as well as notable progressive bands such as Dream Theater[ and Symphony X.

Rush has been awarded several Juno Awards[4] and was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1994.Additionally, Lee, Lifeson, and Peart are all Officers of the Order of Canada[6], the first rock musicians so honored. Over the course of their career, the individual members of Rush have been recognized as some of the most proficient players on their respective instruments. Each member has won several awards in magazine readers' polls. As a whole, Rush boasts 23 gold records and 14 platinum (3 multi-platinum) records, making them one of the best-selling rock bands in history. Rush currently place fifth behind The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, KISS and Aerosmith for the most consecutive gold and platinum albums by a rock band.

MUSICAL STYLE

Rush's musical style has changed substantially over time. Their debut album is strongly influenced by British-Blues rock: an amalgam of sounds and styles from such rock bands as Cream, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and Deep Purple. Over the first few albums their style remained essentially hard rock, with heavy influences from The Whoand Led Zeppelin, but also became increasingly influenced by the British progressive rock movement. In the tradition of progressive rock, Rush wrote long songs with odd meters and fantasy-inspired lyrics, but they did not soften their sound. This fusion of hard and progressive rock continued until the end of the 1970s. In the 1980s, however, Rush successfully merged their trademark sound with the trends of this period, experimenting with New Wave music, reggae, and pop rock. This period included the band's most extensive use of instruments such as synthesizers, sequencers and electronic percussion. It is largely agreed that the culmination of this era of Rush was in 1987 after the release of Hold Your Fire. With the approach of the early '90s and Rush's character sound still intact, the band transformed their style once again to harmonize with the alternative rock movement. The new millennium has seen them return to a more rock-n-roll roots sound, albeit with modern production.

EARLY DAYS 1968-1976

The original lineup formed in September 1968, consisting of Jeff Jones on bass and vocals, John Rutsey on drums and Alex Lifeson on guitars. Within a few days of forming (and before they had even played their first gig), Jeff Jones was replaced by Geddy Lee, a schoolmate of Lifeson. After this point the band experienced rapid personnel changes and lineup reformations before finally settling on its first officially recognized incarnation in May 1971, comprising Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and John Rutsey. The band was managed by local Toronto resident Ray Daniels, a frequent attendee of Rush's early shows.

After gaining stability in the lineup and honing their skills on the local bar/high school dance circuit, the band came to release their first single "Not Fade Away", a cover of the Buddy Holly song, in 1973. Side B contained an original composition, "You Can't Fight It", credited to Rutsey and Lee. The single generated little reaction and due to record company indifference the band formed their own independent record label, Moon Records. With the aid of Daniels and the newly enlisted Terry Brown working in an unofficial capacity, the band released their self-titled debut album in 1974, which was considered highly derivative of Led Zeppelin. Rush had limited local popularity until the album was picked up by WMMS, a radio station in Cleveland, Ohio. Donna Halper, a DJ working at the station, selected "Working Man" for her regular play list. The song's blue collar theme resonated with hard rock fans and this new found popularity led to the album being re-released by Mercury Records in the U.S.

Immediately after the release of the debut album, Rutsey resigned due to his affliction with diabetes and a distaste for touring. Rush held auditions and eventually selected Neil Peart as Rutsey's replacement. In addition to becoming the band's drummer, Peart assumed the role of principal lyricist as Lee and Lifeson had very little interest in writing, contributing to only a handful of song lyrics over the rest of the band's career. Instead, they focused primarily on the musical aspects of Rush. Fly By Night (1975), Rush's first album after recruiting Peart, saw the inclusion of the band's first mini-epic tale "By-Tor and the Snow Dog", replete with complex arrangements and multi-section format. Lyrical themes also underwent dramatic changes after the addition of Peart due to his love for fantasy and science-fiction literature. However, despite these many differences most of the music still closely mirrored the style found on Rush's debut.

Following quickly on the heels of Fly By Night, the band released Caress of Steel (1975) a five track hard/art rock album featuring two extended multi-chapter songs, "The Necromancer" and "The Fountain of Lamneth". Caress of Steel was considered an audacious move for the band due to the placement of two protracted numbers back-to-back, as well as a heavier reliance on atmospherics and story-telling, a large deviation from Fly by Night. Intended to be the band's first "break-through" album, Caress of Steel sold below expectations and the promotional tour consisted of small venues which led to the moniker the "Down the Tubes Tour". In light of these events, Rush's record label pressured them into molding their next album in a more commercially friendly and accessible fashion. However, in spite of such urges, the band ignored the requests and developed their next album, 2112. It was the band's first taste of commercial success and their first platinum album in Canada, although it would not be certified in the U.S. until after the release of their 1981 album Moving Pictures. It is widely considered to be the pinnacle of early period Rush. The lyrics of this time (most of them written by Peart) were heavily influenced by classical poetry, fantasy literature, science fiction and, in a few cases, the writings of novelist Ayn Rand, as exhibited most prominently by their 1975 song "Anthem" from Fly By Night and a specifically acknowledged derivation in 1976's 2112. After the breakthrough of 2112, the band released their first U.S. Top 40 album, a double live album titled All the World's a Stage in 1976.

THE PROGRESSIVE ROCK ERA 1977-1981

After the highly acclaimed and well-received 2112, Rush followed up and delivered 1977's A Farewell to Kings (which became the band's first U.S. gold-selling album) and 1978's Hemispheres. These albums saw the band pushing the prog rock envelope even further than before by expanding their use of progressive elements. Trademarks such as increased synthesizer usage, extended-length concept songs, and highly dynamic playing featuring complex time signature changes became a staple of Rush's compositions. In order to achieve a broader, progressive palette of sound, Alex Lifeson began to experiment with twelve- and six-string classical guitars, and Geddy Lee added bass-pedal synthesizers and Mini-Moog. Likewise, Peart's percussion became diversified in the form of triangles, glockenspiel, wood blocks, cowbells, timpani, gong and chimes. Beyond instrument additions, the band kept in stride with the progressive rock movement by continuing to compose long, conceptual songs with science fiction and fantasy overtones. However, as the new decade approached, Rush gradually began to dispose of their older styles of music in favor of shorter, and sometimes softer, arrangements.

Permanent Waves (1980) shifted Rush's style of music dramatically via the introduction of reggae and new wave. Although a hard rock style was still evident, more and more synthesizers were introduced. Moreover, due to the limited airplay Rush's previous extended-length songs received, Permanent Waves included shorter, more radio-friendly songs such as "The Spirit of Radio" and "Freewill", two songs which helped Permanent Waves become Rush's first U.S. Top 5 album; both songs continue to make appearances on classic rock radio stations in Canada and the United States to this day. Meanwhile, Peart's lyrics shifted toward an expository tone with subject matter that dwelled less upon fantastical or allegorical story-telling and more heavily on cerebral topics that explored humanitarian, social, emotional, and metaphysical elements.

Rush's popularity reached its pinnacle with the release of Moving Pictures in 1981. Moving Pictures essentially continued where Permanent Waves left off, extending the trend of highly accessible and commercially friendly pop-progressive rock that helped thrust them into the spotlight. The lead track, "Tom Sawyer", is probably the band's best-known song, while "Limelight" also received satisfactory responses from listeners and radio stations. Moving Pictures was Rush's very last album to feature an extended song, the ten-and-a-half-minute "The Camera Eye". Incidentally, the song also possessed the band's heaviest usage of synthesizers up to that point, hinting that Rush's music was shifting direction once more. Moving Pictures reached #3 on the Billboard 200 album chart and has been certified quadruple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

Following the success of Moving Pictures (and the completion of another four studio albums) Rush released their second live recording, Exit...Stage Left, in 1981. The album delineates the apex of Rush's progressive period by featuring live material from the band's successful Permanent Waves and Moving Pictures tours. As with their first live release, Exit...Stage Left identified the margin of a new chapter of Rush's sound. The band underwent another radical stylistic transmutation with the release of Signals in 1982.

THE SYNTHESIZER PERIOD 1982-1989

While Geddy Lee's synthesizers had been featured instruments ever since the late 70s, 1982's Signals arguably represented Rush's most drastic stylistic transformation up to that point. Keyboards were suddenly shifted from a contrapuntal background to the melodic frontlines. Traditional guitar solos also became less of a focal point as seen in both "Countdown" and the lead-off track "Subdivisions," the latter track featuring a short solo using natural harmonic accents for minimalism.

Signals contained Rush's only U.S. top-40 pop hit, "New World Man", while, musically, other more experimental songs such as "Digital Man", "The Weapon", and "Chemistry" expanded the band's use of ska, reggae, and funk. More specifically, Alex Lifeson's guitar tone and playing style on Signals were very reminiscent of contemporary acts of the time who were well known for incorporating such rhythms into their music. Although the band members consciously decided to move in this overall direction, they felt dissatisfied with long-time producer Terry Brown's studio treatment of Signals and parted ways with him in 1983. These diverse styles would come into further play on their next studio album.

The style and production of Signals were patently augmented and taken to new heights on 1984's Grace Under Pressure. Although Geddy Lee's use of sequencers and synthesizers remained the band's cornerstone, his focus on new technology was complemented by Neil Peart's adaptation of electronic drums and percussion ? a sonic evolutionary step similar to A Farewell to Kings. Alex Lifeson's contributions on the album were decidedly enhanced to act as an overreaction to the minimalistic role he played on Signals . Still, many of his trademark guitar textures remained intact in the form of open reggae chords and funk and new-wave rhythms; "Red Lenses, "Red Sector A", and "The Enemy Within" serving as prime examples. Grace Under Pressure also featured several popular MTV music videos, including the anti-nuclear anthem "Distant Early Warning." "The Body Electric" would prove a staple of AOR and classic rock radio.

1985's Power Windows was followed by Hold Your Fire in 1987, both of which were produced by Peter Collins. The music on these two albums gives far more emphasis and prominence to Geddy Lee's multi-layered synthesizer work. However, Power Windows still builds somewhat upon the momentum from Grace Under Pressure, even as it involves more sophisticated usage of sequencers and guitar minimalism. Alex Lifeson's presence is still palpable on "The Big Money," (the album's modest-charting single) with spotlights on "Grand Designs," "Middletown Dreams," and "Marathon." Lifeson, like many guitarists in the late 1980s, experimented with processors that reduced his instrument to echoey chord colorings and razor-thin leads. Hold Your Fire represents both a modest extension of the guitar stylings found on Power Windows, and the culmination of this era of Rush. Whereas the previous five Rush albums sold platinum or better, Hold Your Fire only went gold in 1987.

A third live album and video, A Show of Hands (1989), was also released by Mercury following the Power Windows and Hold Your Fire tours, demonstrating the aspects of Rush in the 80s. A Show of Hands met with strong fan approval, but Rolling Stone critic Michael Azerrad dismissed it as "musical muscle" with 1.5 stars, claiming Rush fans viewed their favorite power trio as "the holy trinity" . Nevertheless, A Show of Hands managed to surpass the gold album mark. At this point, the group changed record labels from Mercury to Atlantic. After Rush's departure in 1989, PolyGram also released a gold-selling two-volume compilation of their Rush catalog, Chronicles (1990).

RETURNING TO THEIR ROOTS 1989-1997

Rush started to deviate from their 1980s style with the albums Presto and Roll the Bones. Produced by record engineer and musician Rupert Hine, these two albums saw Rush shedding much of their keyboard-saturated sound. Beginning with 1989's Presto, the band opted for arrangements that were notably more guitar-centric than the previous two studio albums. While synthesizers were still used in many songs, the instrument was no longer featured as the centerpiece of Rush's compositions. Continuing this trend, 1991's Roll the Bones extended the use of the standard three instrument approach with even less focus on synthesizers than its predecessor. While, musically, these albums do not deviate too much from a general pop rock sound, Rush stuck to their creative approach of incorporating traces of more exotic musical styles. "Roll the Bones", for instance, exhibits funk and hip hop elements, while the instrumental track "Where's My Thing?" (the band's first instrumental piece in a decade) features several jazz components. This return to three piece instrumentation helped pave the way for future albums in the mid 90s, which would adopt a more straightforward rock formula.

The transition from synthesizers to more guitar-oriented and organic instrumentation continued with the 1993 album Counterparts and the follow-up 1996's Test for Echo. Musically, Counterparts and Test For Echo are two of Rush's most guitar-driven albums. While the music in general did not meet the criteria for "progressive rock", some of the songs could be considered more adventurous than what one might expect from a standard modern rock band. For instance, "Time and Motion" possesses multiple time signature changes and heavy organ, while the instrumental track, titled "Limbo", consists of several distinct, and relatively complex, musical passages repeated throughout the duration. Musically, Test For Echo still retained much of the hard rock/alternative stylings already chartered on the previous record. Lifeson and Lee's playing remained more or less unchanged; however, a distinct modification in technique became apparent in Peart's playing due to formal Jazz and Swing training under the tutelage of jazz drummer Freddie Gruber during the interim between Counterparts and Test For Echo. In October 1996, in support of Test For Echo, the band embarked on an extensive and very successful North American tour, the band's first without an opening act and dubbed "An Evening with Rush". The tour was broken up into two segments spanning October through December, 1996 and May through July, 1997 with the band taking a respite between legs.

HIATUS AND THE COMEBACK 1997-PRESENT

After wrapping up the tour promoting Test for Echo in 1997, the band entered a five-year hiatus mainly due to personal tragedies in Peart's life. Peart's daughter Selena died in a car accident in August 1997, followed by his wife Jacqueline's death from cancer in June 1998. Peart embarked on a self-described "healing journey" by motorcycle in which he traveled extensively across North America. He subsequently wrote about his travels in his book Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road. Rush later stated that they had nearly broken up during this period due to Peart's situation. During this abeyance of activity as Peart recuperated, a triple CD live album entitled Different Stages was released in 1998. It contained two discs packed with recorded performances from the band's Counterparts and Test for Echo tours, marking the fourth officially released live album by the band.

After sufficient time to grieve and reassemble the pieces of his life, Peart married photographer Carrie Nuttall in September of 2000. In early 2001 he announced to his band mates that he was ready to once again enter the studio and get back into the business of making music. The band returned in May 2002 with Vapor Trails. In order to herald the band's comeback, the single and lead track from the album, "One Little Victory" was designed to grab the attention of listeners due to its rapid guitar and drum tempos. While mostly heavy rock, the album displayed a fair share of musical eclecticism ranging from standard modern-riff rock and poppy numbers to songs that display a fresh smattering of progressive flavor. Vapor Trails also marks the first studio recording not to include a single synthesizer, organ, or keyboard part since the early 1970s. While the album is almost completely guitar-driven, it is mostly devoid of any conventional sounding guitar solos, a conscious decision made by Alex Lifeson during the writing process. According to the band, the entire developmental process for Vapor Trails was extremely taxing and took approximately fourteen months to complete, by far the longest the band has ever spent writing and recording a studio album. The album debuted to moderate praise and was supported by the band's first tour in six years, including first-ever concerts in Mexico City and Brazil, where they played to some of the largest crowds of their career.

A triple CD live album and dual DVD, Rush in Rio, was released in late October 2003, an entire concert performance on the last night of their Vapor Trails tour, recorded November 23, 2002, at Maracana Stadium, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In order to celebrate their 30th anniversary, June 2004 saw the release of Feedback, a studio EP featuring eight covers of such artists as Cream, The Who, and The Yardbirds, bands which the members of Rush cite as inspiration around the time of their inception. This marks the first official studio release of the band covering the music of other artists. That same summer, Rush again hit the road for a very successful 30th Anniversary Tour, playing dates in the United States, Canada, the UK, Germany, Italy, Sweden, the Czech Republic, and the Netherlands. On September 24, 2004 a Frankfurt, Germany concert was recorded for DVD (titled R30: Live in Frankfurt), which was released November 22, 2005.

A new DVD box set, called Rush Replay X 3, was released on June 13, 2006. It consists of the three original home videos (Exit...Stage Left, Grace Under Pressure and A Show of Hands) completely remastered on DVD. Also included is a previously unreleased soundtrack CD to the Grace Under Pressure disc.

FUTURE

During promotional interviews for the R30 Live In Frankfurt DVD, the band confirmed their intention to return to the studio in early 2006 with a view to releasing a new album later in the year, with yet another tour to follow. Lifeson has confirmed that the writing and recording processes for the new album are being executed differently than how they were in the past. Instead of writing all of the songs first followed by recording, mixing and mastering sessions, small groups of songs are being written and recorded in procession.

In a January 20, 2006 post on his own website, Peart stated that "the actual work" of recording a new album "is sure to take most of 2006 to accomplish," and that "any tour dates in 2006 are unlikely ? maybe next year". In a further post on April 26, 2006 Peart wrote of a meeting the band held at his house in Quebec in March. Neil had given Lee and Lifeson lyrics for five songs in January, which were put to music during the interim. Pleased with what his fellow musicians had come up with, Peart described the songs as having a "spiritual" feel.

It was announced on September 1, 2006, that the band had secured producer Nick Raskulinecz and engineer Rick Chycki for a new studio album. Chycki has worked previously with Rush on the R30 DVD.

ALBUMS

1974 - Rush
1975 - Fly by Night Mer
1975 - Caress of Steel
1976 - 2112
1977 - A Farewell to Kings
1978 - Hemispheres
1980 - Permanent Waves
1981 - Moving Pictures
1982 - Signals Merc
1984 - Grace Under Pressure
1985 - Power Windows
1987 - Hold Your Fire
1989 - Presto
1991 - Roll the Bones
1993 - Counterparts
1996 - Test for Echo
2002 - Vapor Trails

OTHER STUDIO RECORDS

1973 - Not Fade Away (SINGLE)
1977 - Closer to The Heart (SINGLE)
2004 - Feedback (COVER ALBUM)

LIVE ALBUMS

1976 - All The World's a Stage
1981 - Exit...Stage Left
1988 - A Show of Hands
1998 - Different Stages
2003 - Rush in Rio
2005 - R30: 30th Anniversary World Tour

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