Friday, December 22, 2023

Great Magazine Reads: Rush gets the memoir treatment in new Geddy Lee book

Rush bassist and singer Geddy Lee’s memoir My ‘Effing Life is out, and while I can’t commit to reading the whole thing, MOJO Magazine published (in the December issue) an interesting interview with him promoting the book. 

Here are some things I learned about Lee, who I was lucky enough to see on Rush’s awesome Hold Your Fire tour at The Arena in St. Louis on March 1, 1988 (opener was Tommy Shaw) and on their slightly less great Presto tour at the same place on March 5, 1990 (opener was Mr. Big):

  • His real name is Gershon Eliezer Weinrib, “named after his maternal grandfather, a Polish Jew murdered in the Holocaust. Having survived Auschwitz, Dachau andBergen-Belsen, his parents Moshe and Malka emigrated to Canada, where Lee was born in 1953.”
  • He resented drummer Neil Peart for backing out of the band so he could spend more time with his family, but that was before he knew that Peart was actually dying of brain cancer, which he did in 2020. Lee eventually felt like a “heel” about all that.
  • After Rush’s third album, Caress of Steel, bombed, the trio had no idea that their next one, 2112, was going to be so career defining. It’s my favorite one, although, believe it or not, a close second is their self-titled debut, which didn’t even have Peart on it.
  • Lee admits most of the band’s peers didn’t like Rush much, but notes that bands like Primus and the whole Seattle grunge scene were heavily influenced by them.
  • Rush was no Led Zeppelin in the drug-taking department, but Lee says he took acid in the 1960s and cocaine in the 1980s and 1990s. With so many shows, he says the coke was fun and even useful at some points, and that he would go backstage while Peart did solos on drums to snort it with buddies.
  • Aimee Mann from ‘Til Tuesday sang on “Time Stand Still” off of Hold Your Fire.
  • Over the three years when Peart was dying, he would have Lee and guitarist Alex Lifeson over to his place where they would drink Macallan and hang out and make music, but never talk about his illness. Other friends like Stewart Copeland of The Police would sometimes hang out there with them.
  • Lee apparently got briefly kicked out of the band in 1968 and he and Lifeson have still not really discussed why that happened, despite the fact they have always been exceptionally close friends.
  • 2024 will mark 50 years since Rush’s first album. It’s still unknown whether Lee and Lifeson will ever play music again publicly.

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