ush is Canada's biggest contribution thus far to heavy metal. Comprising of Geddy Lee (keyboards/bass/vocals), Alex Lifeson (guitar) and John Rutsey (drums) they formed in 1968 in the in the 'Willowdale' district of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, although they would not reform into the incarnation of Rush as we know them now until 1974.
From 1968-1972 Rush played Toronto pubs with a style of material similar to that of Cream. In 1973 they recorded a version of Buddy Holly's Not Fade Away, and the flip side You Can't Fight It as their debut release on their own 'Moon Records' label. The demo failed to grab the world by the lapels as they wanted, but that didn't matter for they decided to soldier on with a debut album. Unfortunately, it also didn't grab too many people by the wallets, but they did manage to at least get some distribution via 'London Records'. But their live shows were an all star event, seeing them play with the likes of ZZ-Top and the New York Dolls, in both Canada and the USA.
It would be 'Mercury Records' (later to also sign Def Leppard) who discovered their talent and signed them to a six figure sum contract and immediately re-released their debut Rush (1974). That debut made US top 100 this time around. Neil Pert (at the time one of the premier drummers in the metal world) would replace Rutsey, and Rush commenced Rush's first full tour of the USA. With Neil Pert's sci-fi and fantasy song writing, Lee's high pitched voice, and a strong guitar section, Rush would standardize their award winning sound on Fly By Night (1975) and Caress Of Steel (1975).
Their 1976 concept album, 2112, based on the writings of novelist/philosopher Ayn Rand on the topics of individual freedom and will, has become a standard in the world of heavy metal. The record featured a 20-minute track that filled all of the first side. All The World's A Stage (1977), despite its Shakespearean title, was an excellent follow-up effort and their first live recording. Their first "best of..." compilation, Archives, would follow also in 1977. It was 1978's A Farewell To Kings, and the follow-up, Hemispheres (1978), that would mark the last of the period of epic writing for Rush. Regardless of their style, the latter made UK and US top 40, mostly on the strength of the track (later EP) Closer To The Heart early the next year. In 1979 the Canadian government gave them the title of "Official Ambassadors Of Music", while at home and elsewhere they were enjoying the high point of their career.
The 1980 single Spirit Of Radio, from the Permanent Waves album, and its statement on the state of the music business, broke Rush of their old style; a style quickly becoming tired. It gave them a strong chart spot in the UK, and marked the beginning of a period where they utilized keyboards, synthesizers and deliberate progression of music on each album.
It was their new sound from Permanent Waves that got Rush new success but also broke them away from their traditional following, for this progression was at the expense of their popularity, and after 1981's Moving Pictures LP it became noticeable that the band was in conflict as to just how technical they should get in the studio during the time when the microchip/computer revolution was in full swing. The live shows, however, didn't suffer such cerebral decision-making and remained a joy to those who came. During this time they would continue to explore serious "thinking man's issues" on the albums Exit: Stage Left (1981), Signals (1982), Grace Under Pressure (1984) or, as on the 1985 Power Windows LP and the track Territories.
1987's Hold Your Fire would see them remove Terry Brown from his long time producer's perch and release them from this so-called "dark ages". After the live follow-up, A Show Of Hands (1989), Rush replaced their record company as well and made a fresh start on the 'Atlantic' label with Presto (1989) being the debut. Chronicles, another "best of..." compilation would follow in 1990. Roll The Bones (1991) would continue to prep them for the decade to come with it, and its follow-up, Counterparts, receiving top 5 in the US (but declining in Britain with only a top 30).
During the 1990s Rush received a more popular image with each successive release, starting with 1993's Counterparts, their most popular effort of late. Their new work, Test For Echo (1996), received less acclaim but nonetheless charted at a respectable 5 in the US, and 25 in the UK Rush, however, were facing a tongue lashing by critics who accused them of being pretentious and, to top it all off, they were rarely seen outside Canada by this time. In 1996, however, the Canadian government came calling again, this time to award them the highest civilian honor that land has to offer, The Order Of Canada.
Lifeson (guitar/bass/keyboards), for his part, would take a temporary break from the band to indulge in his side-project Victor with fellow musicians Bill Bell (co-writer/wobble & slide guitar), Blake Manning (drums), Peter Cardinali (bass) and guests Edwin (of I Mother Earth on vocals), Les Claypool (of Primus on bass). It was ill advised, and produced only a single self-titled recording that scraped the US top 100 at 99.
Retrospectives I & II, yet another compilation set emerged in 1997, with a live recording coming after titled Different Stages (1998).
...But, after wrapping up the tour promoting Test for Echo in 1997, Rush entered a five-year hiatus primarily due to personal tragedies in Peart's life. Peart's daughter Selena died in an automobile accident in August 1997, followed by the death of his wife Jacqueline from cancer in June 1998. Peart took a hiatus to mourn and reflect, during which he traveled extensively throughout North America on his BMW motorcycle, covering 88,000 km (55,000 mi). During this journey, he decided to return to the band and subsequently wrote Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road as a chronicle of his geographical and emotional journey. After visiting long-time Rush photographer Andrew MacNaughtan in Los Angeles, Peart was introduced to his future wife, photographer Carrie Nuttall. Peart married Nuttall on September 9, 2000. Soon after, with the help of producer Paul Northfield the band returned in May 2002 with Vapor Trails, written and recorded in Toronto.
In 2000 Geddy Lee would strike out with his self-named side-project to release My Favourite Headache (2000) with Ben Monk (ex-FM; guitar/violin) and Matt Cameron (ex-Soundgarden; drums). It fared even less than Lifeson's project. 2003 would see Rush in the news again when they agreed to appear at the Toronto 'SARSstock' benefit concert and in 2004 released the Feedback EP to celebrate their 30th anniversary. It was a rather mediocre all-covers album featuring remakes of songs from The Who, Buffalo Springfieldand the like. Lifeson, meanwhile was facing more serious problems than the reviews of the latest CD for back on New Years of 2004 he was arrested for disorderly behavior in Florida whist drunk then apparently was charged with assault of a police officer potentially getting jail time, but this is expected to be unlikely.
February 14, 2007, an announcement was made on the official Rush web site that the title of the new album would be Snakes & Arrows. The first single, Far Cry, was released to North American radio stations on March 12, 2007 and reached 2 on the Media Base Mainstream and Radio and Records Charts; the album subsequently arrived in May of that year. To coincide with the Atlantic ocean hurricane season, Spindrift was released as the official second radio single on June 1, 2007, whereas The Larger Bowl (A Pantoum) saw single status on June 25, 2007.
As Rush neared the conclusion of their Snakes & Arrows tour, they announced their first appearance on American television in over 30 years. Rush was interviewed by Stephen Colbert and they performed Tom Sawyer on The Colbert Report on July 16, 2008. Continuing to ride what one movie reviewer has called a "pop cultural wave," they also appeared at a live show in April 2009 for the comedy film I Love You, Man.
On March 19, 2010, the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation - the government owned national television network) posted a video interview with Lee and Lifeson where they discussed Rush's induction into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame on March 28, 2010, at the Toronto Centre for the Arts' George Weston Recital Hall. The band was recognized for the songs Limelight, Closer to the Heart, The Spirit of Radio, Tom Sawyer and Subdivisions.
Clockwork Angels was released in the United States and Canada on June 12, 2012, and its supporting Clockwork Angels Tour began on September 7, 2012. As of August 31, 2011, Rush switched their American distribution from 'Atlantic Records' over to the 'Warner Brothers' majority-owned, onetime indie metal label, 'Roadrunner Records'.
On November 18, 2013 guitarist Alex Lifeson said that the band has committed to taking a year off, following the completion of the world tour in support of Clockwork Angels. During the European leg of the Clockwork Angels Tour, the June 8, 2013, show at the Sweden rock Festival was the group's first festival appearance in 30 years. The performances on November 25, 2012, in Phoenix, Arizona and November 28, 2012, in Dallas, Texas were recorded to make a live CD/DVD/Blu-ray, released on November 19, 2013.
When the act returned, the R40 Live (live; 2015) box set was released to commemorate the band's 40th anniversary. The box set, however, would be the act's last tour and release, however. On April 29, 2015, Lifeson stated in an interview that R40 Live might be the final large-scale Rush project due to his psoriatic arthritis and Peart's chronic tendinitis. The option was left open for various members to reform for other projects, and they remained friends, but Rush as a full-time project was now over. The act folded in 2018.
Despite the awards and critics, Rush proved they were always a marketable commodity for record companies. Often imitated but never duplicated, Rush has remained a mainstay in the Canadian music industry since their founding.
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Canadian rock band Rush, in concert in Milan, Italy. Photo by: Enrico Frangi.
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