Complete List Of Rush Band Members

Rush Band Members

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Our Complete List Of Rush Band Members article looks at the musicians who field one of our favorite bands. I will never forget walking into a record store in 1976 and seeing the album 2112. I never heard of the band before, but the album cover was so cool I took a chance. The rest is rock and roll history. Rush was formed in Toronto in 1968. The band initially consisted of Alex Lifeson (guitar), John Rutsey (drums), and Jeff Jones (bass guitar/vocals), with Geddy Lee replacing Jones shortly after the band’s formation. The band underwent several lineup changes, ultimately solidifying in July 1974 with Neil Peart replacing Rutsey, establishing the iconic power trio lineup of Lee, Lifeson, and Peart that would endure for the rest of the band’s career.

The band’s breakthrough came with their second album, “Fly by Night” (1975), followed by a brief period of uncertainty with the commercial failure of “Caress of Steel.” However, their fortunes revived with the release of “2112” (1976), marking the beginning of a successful era that included albums such as “A Farewell to Kings” (1977) and “Hemispheres” (1978). Rush’s popularity soared in the subsequent decades, with albums like “Permanent Waves,” “Moving Pictures,” and “Signals” achieving significant chart success in Canada, the US, and the UK.

Following a hiatus between 1997 and 2001 due to personal tragedies in Peart’s life, Rush returned to the studio and stage, releasing “Vapor Trails” (2002), “Snakes & Arrows” (2007), and “Clockwork Angels” (2012), and concluded their performance career with concerts in 2015. The band ceased activity after the R40 Tour, a decision underscored by Peart’s passing from brain cancer in January 2020. Despite Peart’s death, Lee and Lifeson have continued collaborating, including performances at significant events in 2022, with discussions of a potential Rush reunion emerging in 2023.

Rush’s music, known for its musicianship, complex compositions, and diverse lyrical themes spanning science fiction to philosophy, evolved from blues-inspired hard rock to progressive rock, with significant use of synthesizers in the 1980s, before a return to guitar-driven hard rock and a final resurgence of progressive rock with “Clockwork Angels.”

As of 2022, Rush has sold 26 million albums in the US and an estimated 42 million worldwide, earning 14 platinum and 3 multi-platinum albums in the US and 17 platinum albums in Canada. The band has received seven Grammy nominations, several Juno Awards, and an International Achievement Award at the 2009 SOCAN Awards, and has been inducted into both the Canadian Music Hall of Fame (1994) and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (2013), reflecting their significant impact on rock music and their enduring legacy as virtuosos on their respective instruments.

RUSH BAND MEMBERS

Neil Peart

Neil Peart

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Neil Peart was born in Hamilton, Ontario, and raised in Port Dalhousie (now part of St. Catharines). He embarked on his musical journey during adolescence, playing with regional bands and aspiring to become a full-time drummer. Following a challenging period in England, Peart returned to Canada and, in mid-1974, joined Rush, a Toronto-based band that had been formed six years earlier. Throughout his tenure with Rush, Peart contributed to the release of nineteen studio albums, ten of which achieved sales exceeding a million copies in the United States alone, earning the band a place as third in Billboard’s “most consecutive gold or platinum albums by a rock band.”

Peart’s early drumming was heavily influenced by the hard rock genre, drawing inspiration from iconic British drummers such as Keith Moon, Ginger Baker, and John Bonham. Over the years, Peart expanded his musical influences to include jazz and big band legends like Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich. In 1994, Peart’s encounter with jazz instructor Freddie Gruber marked a pivotal moment in his career, leading to a significant transformation in his playing style by integrating jazz and swing elements.

Beyond his remarkable skills as a drummer, Peart was also the principal lyricist for Rush, crafting lyrics that delved into a wide range of subjects from science fiction and fantasy to philosophy, along with secular, humanitarian, and libertarian themes. Peart’s literary contributions extended beyond song lyrics; he authored seven nonfiction books that chronicled his extensive travels and personal experiences. His creative partnership with author Kevin J. Anderson resulted in three steampunk fantasy novels inspired by Rush’s final album, “Clockwork Angels,” as well as a dark fantasy novella titled “Drumbeats,” which was influenced by Peart’s adventures in Africa. Peart’s multifaceted talents and intellectual curiosity not only shaped the unique sound and lyrical depth of Rush but also left an indelible mark on the literary world.

Neil Peart passed away on January 7, 2020, in Santa Monica, California, succumbing to glioblastoma, a highly aggressive type of brain cancer. Peart had been battling the illness for three and a half years prior to his death, a fact that was kept confidential within his close circle of family and friends. The news of his passing was officially shared by his family on January 10, marking the loss of one of rock music’s most revered drummers and lyricists.

Alex Lifeson

Alex Lifeson

Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock.com

Aleksandar Živojinović, widely known by his stage name Alex Lifeson, was born in Fernie, British Columbia, to Serb immigrants Nenad and Melanija Živojinović from Yugoslavia. Raised in Toronto, Lifeson’s moniker “Lifeson” is a direct translation of his birth surname, which means “son of life” in English. His musical journey began with the viola, but the allure of the guitar captured his interest at the age of 12, influenced by his brother-in-law’s flamenco guitar playing.

Lifeson’s first guitar, a Christmas gift from his father, was a six-string Kent classical acoustic, which was eventually replaced by an electric Japanese model. As a teenager, Lifeson drew inspiration from iconic guitarists such as Jimi Hendrix, Pete Townshend, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Steve Hackett, and Allan Holdsworth. His admiration for Clapton’s accessible solos, in particular, played a significant role in his development as a guitarist.

In 1963, Lifeson’s path crossed with John Rutsey, leading to the formation of what would eventually become Rush. Largely self-taught, Lifeson’s only formal guitar instruction came from a high school friend in 1971, who provided classical guitar lessons for about a year and a half.

A pivotal moment in Lifeson’s life occurred at 17 when he faced a familial dispute over his desire to leave high school and pursue a career in music. This argument was documented in the 1973 Canadian documentary “Come on Children,” and later featured in the Rush documentaries “Beyond the Lighted Stage” (2010) and “Time Stand Still” (2016).

Alex Lifeson holds the unique distinction of being the sole member to have remained with Rush throughout its entire history, sharing the achievement of appearing on all the band’s albums with fellow bandmate Geddy Lee. Within the band, Lifeson’s musical contributions extended beyond his primary role as the guitarist; he also played a variety of string instruments including the mandola, mandolin, and bouzouki, and contributed backing vocals, notably on the albums “Rush” (1974), “Presto” (1989), and “Roll the Bones” (1991). Lifeson’s versatility saw him occasionally playing keyboards and bass pedal synthesizers, showcasing his ability to adapt and expand his musical repertoire.

Lifeson, along with Lee and Neil Peart, was honored as an Officer of the Order of Canada on May 9, 1996, marking a historic moment as the trio became the first rock band to receive this distinction as a group. His contributions to music were further recognized in 2013 with Rush’s induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

While Lifeson’s musical journey is predominantly associated with Rush, his creative endeavors extend beyond the band. He released a solo album titled “Victor” in 1996, showcasing his versatility and depth as a musician. Beyond his musical career, Lifeson has explored various interests, including painting and acting. He is also a licensed aircraft pilot and was previously a part-owner of The Orbit Room, a bar and restaurant located in Toronto.

Geddy Lee

Geddy Lee

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Geddy Lee was born Gary Lee Weinrib on July 29, 1953, in Willowdale, Toronto. He comes from a profound background, being the son of Morris Weinrib and Mary “Manya” Rubinstein, Jewish Holocaust survivors from Poland. His parents endured the harrowing experiences of the Starachowice ghetto, Auschwitz, Dachau, and Bergen-Belsen concentration camps during World War II.  The early loss of his father forced his mother to support the family by running a variety store in Newmarket, Ontario. This absence of parental supervision, Lee believes, played a crucial role in steering him towards a career in music. He converted his basement into a practice space for his band, eventually choosing to leave high school to pursue music professionally, a decision that deeply affected his mother. Lee’s stage name, “Geddy,” originated from his mother’s heavy Polish accent when saying “Gary,” which his school friends adopted.

Geddy Lee’s musical journey commenced during his school years, around the age of 10. Lee’s musical tastes and influences took a significant turn upon discovering the sounds of prominent rock groups of the era. Early British progressive rock particularly captivated him, with artists like Jack Bruce of Cream, John Entwistle of The Who, and bands like Procol Harum shaping his musical direction. Lee admired Jack Bruce not only for his skills but also for the distinctiveness and engaging quality of his music. This admiration for Bruce’s unique style played a crucial role in Lee’s development as a bass player. Lee’s bass playing was also influenced by other notable musicians such as Paul McCartney, Chris Squire of Yes, and the legendary Motown bassist James Jamerson.

Geddy Lee’s exceptional contributions to music have been widely recognized throughout his career, earning him numerous accolades both as a solo artist and as a member of Rush. His mastery of the bass guitar has been acknowledged by Guitar Player magazine, where he was inducted into the Bass Hall of Fame and won the “Best Rock Bass” category six times. In 1993, he was voted “Best Rock Bass Player” in Bass Player magazine’s readers’ poll. Rush’s significant impact on music was further solidified in 1994 when the band was inducted into the Juno Hall of Fame.

In 1996, Lee, along with his Rush bandmates Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart, was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada, one of the country’s highest civilian honors. The year 2007 saw Lee winning Best Album for Bass for “Snakes & Arrows,” as well as accolades for “Coolest Bass Line in a Song” for “Malignant Narcissism” and “Best 2007 Cover Feature” for “Northern Warrior,” all from Bass Player magazine. In 2010, Rush was named “Living Legend” by Classic Rock Magazine and received a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Lee was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012, and in 2013, Rush was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2014, Lee, Peart, and Lifeson were awarded honorary doctorates from Nipissing University in North Bay, Ontario. Most recently, in 2021, Lee received a Lifetime Achievement Award for his philanthropic efforts at the Artists for Peace and Justice (APJ) annual gala in Toronto on September 11, highlighting his contributions beyond music to charitable causes.

EARLY RUSH BAND MEMBERS

John Rutsey

John  Rutsey WAS born on July 23, 1952. He passed away on May 11, 2008. He was the original drummer and a founding member of the iconic rock band Rush. Rutsey’s contribution to the music world is marked by his performance on Rush’s debut album in 1974, which showcased his drumming talent. However, shortly after the album’s release, Rutsey had to step away from the band due to health issues that restricted his ability to participate in extensive tours. This departure led to Neil Peart taking over the drumming duties for Rush.

Jeff Jones

In the summer of 1968, Jeff Jones was part of the original lineup of Rush, alongside Alex Lifeson and John Rutsey, where he took on the roles of the primary singer and bassist. However, his tenure with the band was brief; he was replaced by Geddy Lee in September 1968, before Rush’s second performance, due to Jones’s decision to attend a party instead. Despite his short stint with Rush, Jones found success with the gospel rock band Ocean, achieving fame with their 1971 million-selling single “Put Your Hand in the Hand,” penned by Gene MacLellan. Ocean’s journey concluded in 1975 when the group disbanded.

Jones’s musical career continued as he joined Red Rider, contributing as the bassist on their renowned 1981 track “Lunatic Fringe.” He maintains a musical collaboration with Red Rider’s leader, Tom Cochrane, to this day. Beyond his performance career, Jones has engaged with the music community through creating videos that showcase Eastwood basses, sharing his expertise and continuing his involvement in the music industry.

Other early contributors

Between January and June of 1969, Lindy Young contributed to Rush by playing keyboards, providing both lead and backing vocals, and showcasing his talents on guitars, percussion, and harmonica. Following Young’s tenure, Joe Perna joined the band from May to July 1969, primarily handling the bass guitar duties while also offering lead and backing vocals. Concurrently, from June to July 1969, Bob Vopni supported the group on guitars and backing vocals. Later, from 1971 to 1972, Mitch Bossi came on board, playing guitars and contributing backing vocals.

Complete List Of Rush Band Members article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2024

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