I want to write about Rush, but what is there to say about them that haven’t already been said? I guess that it will have to be my personal journey with Rush through time.
I was fifteen when I first heard the band in 1975. One of my best friends at the time whom also was my closest neighbor had bought “Caress of Steel” on cassette. I immediately fell in love with “Bastille Day” and “The Necromancer”. Most of my friends didn’t like the vocals but I never had any problem with high-pitched voices, instead I was fascinated by it. The next time I came across Rush was on a TV show called In Concert, from Canada if I remember correctly. It was broadcasted on Swedish TV where there hardly ever was any hard rock. Geddy was dressed all in white and I think they played two songs. So in early 1976 just days after the release of “2112” the same friend found the album in a used album store and of course he bought it. We rushed home to listen to it and even though we both liked “Caress of Steel” this was so much better. By this time I had just started my own record collection and I knew that this was something that I wanted to own. As soon as I had saved enough money I took the bus to the city of Gothenburg and bought “Fly By Night”, “Caress of Steel” and of course “2112”. The first album was not available in Sweden at that time but a friend of mine was going to England that summer so I asked her to buy it for me if she happened to find it, which she did. Along with Thin Lizzy and BTO, Rush was the only music I listened to that summer. “Anthem” and “By-Tor and the Snow Dog” especially fascinated me. Of course all of the musicians where extremely good and you could easily hear everything that they played. I had never listened that closely to different instruments before but it was impossible not to notice what they played individually and how they arranged the songs. Geddy Lee’s playing and his typical Rickenbacker sound was what really exited me and I guess that was one of the main reasons why I later decided to be a bassist.
In September the same year I saw an ad for “All the World’s a Stage” in Melody Maker. This was so exiting that I called all the record stores in Gothenburg to see if any of them had the album. Only one store called Gramoforum had it and they promised to hold it for me if I picked it up the same day. I immediately jumped on my moped and drove the 10 kilometers to the store and bought it. It was more expensive than I had expected but I never hesitated. As soon as I got home I raced down to our basement where we had our stereo. This was my first live album and it featured and even spread of songs from the four studio albums that they had released. The album cover had a triple gatefold, even though it was a double album, loaded with great live pictures of the band. I never liked drum solos but what Neil Peart delivered was just as exiting as a regular song. Rush was fast becoming my favorite band.
A year later in the summer of 1977 my family moved from Sweden to America to a small town called Eau Clarie in Wisconsin. This was when I decided to learn how to play bass. I was seventeen, which I guess was quite late to start to learn an instrument. I bought my first bass, a Hagström Swede and took a couple of lessons before quitting. My bass teacher wanted me to learn country but I wanted to play hard rock. I started with a pick but I soon changed to my fingers, as that was how Geddy played. Not long after I started to play bass Rush released “A Farewell to Kings” which was equally as exiting as “2112” and now I could appreciate Geddys playing even more. It was clear to me that I needed a Rickenbacker 4001 if I wanted to get the same sound as Geddy. It took about a half year before I could buy my first black Rickenbacker 4001, which I still have. Well, I sold it later the same year but managed to buy it back many years later. I actually recorded all of “Climate Change” and the coming Destiny album “Global Warming” with that bass, but that’s another story.
Anyway, in the summer of 1978 we moved back to Gothenburg, Sweden. By this time Rush was getting more and more fans even there, and when the band released “Hemispheres” I was not the only one that was exited. This album was even better than their previous albums and my favorite track was the ten minutes long instrumental “La Villa Strangiato”.
In May of 1979 Rush finally came to Gothenburg for the first and last time. They played at Konserthuset and I managed to get tickets in the middle of the fifth row. I had brought my camera and snapped some very cool pictures. As far as I was concerned the gig was amazing. Unfortunately Rush would not return to Sweden until 2004 but I still managed to see them live once again before this. In the summer of 1981 I went back to Eau Claire to visit my American friends and just the day before my return to Sweden Rush played The Met Center in Mineapolis/St:Paul, a two hour drive from Eau Clair, and as this also was where the airport to my flight home was me and my friend Greg Farley decided to go. This was on the “Moving Pictures”, my favorite Rush album, tour and Rush was bigger than ever with hits like “Tom Sawyer” and “Limelight” on the radio. They actually played two days in a row at the Met Center, a big hockey arena that could take at least 12.000 people. The show had a much bigger production than what they had in Gothenburg two years earlier, as you actually can see on the concert DVD (originally released on VHS) from the same tour. The most amazing thing is that the big audience sang along in most of the songs. This was one of the best concerts that I have ever seen.
Unfortunately Rush decided that it was time for a change and a new direction for their music after “Moving Pictures” and when the next album “Signals” came out I was disappointed for the first time. The sound was very different, mellower with tons of keyboards, less guitar and for the most part no more Rickenbacker. It was not a bad album, but it wasn’t the Rush that I loved. I continued to buy their albums but it was never the same again. Well, in 1993 with the release of “Counterparts” things started to sound right again. The album had some very good songs that exited me as much as the eight first albums and even if the follow up wasn’t as good it was still good enough to see a promising rocking future for Rush again, but then tragedy struck in Neil Pearts life as he lost both his daughter and wife within a year…
No one knew if Rush would ever record or perform live again but after five years Rush returned in 2002 with a new album called “Vapor Trails” and a new tour. The album was much harder than anything they had released since the seventies and the guitar was once again up front. Not everyone liked this album, but I did. Especially the remixed version from 2013 is great. Rush released two more albums of original material, “Snakes and Arrows” in 2007 and “Clockwork Angels” in 2012, that where both great, especially the latter was amazing. Rush who was also inducted In The Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame in 2013 had now kind of gone full circle, before they broke up in 2016 when Neil Peart decided to retire. Thankfully I managed to see the band live two more times after their comeback and even though the band is no more there are plenty of great concerts on both DVD and Blu-Ray as well as two excellent documentaries.
For me personally, as a life long fan of Geddy Lee’s bass playing, I’m looking forward to getting my hands on the recently released Geddy Lee’s 408 page book titled “Geddy Lee’s Big Beautiful Book of Bass”.
There will probably never be a band like Rush again…