Although not widely regarded by critics or the mainstream audience, award-winning Canadian rock band Rush has remained one of the most esteemed pillars of hard/progressive rock, and maintained a loyal fan base. The group is also known for its lyrics that explore science fiction fantasy. The triumvirate of guitarist Alex Lifeson, singer/bassist Geddy Lee and drummer/primary songwriter Neal Peart have been the constant members throughout the band’s lifespan – not only only that, each of the members are also considered virtuosos.
The inception of Rush was in Toronto, Ontario in 1968. The group initially consisted of Lifeson, Lee and John Rutsey. After gaining some measure of notability around the Toronto local music circuit, they eventually recorded and released their self-titled debut album in 1974. Filled to the brim with hard rock and heavy metal, Rush eventually gained a gold status in Canada and also the neighboring United States.
But before they would release their second album, Rutsey left the band and was soon replaced by Peart, who also became the band’s main songwriter. Rush released their second LP Fly By Night in 1974, and Caress Of Steel in 1975; it was also around this time that the band entered into the foray of progressive rock.
Rush’s next album, the sci fi-themed 2112, was released in 1976. It was the band’s breakthrough release, made famous (and infamous as well perhaps) by its epic title track that occupied the entire side one of the record. “2112” was divided into seven sections; the first, (“Overture”) and the second (“The Temples Of Syrinx”) were released as singles – and they are still regarded as classic Rush numbers. Notwithstanding the negative critical reception that the album received, 2112 was loved by fans, and went commercially successful. It set the beginning of Rush’s string of platinum-winning records.
That platinum streak continued for Rush as they released more albums: A Farewell To Kings (1977), Hemispheres (1978), Permanent Waves (1980), Moving Pictures (1981), Signals (1982, which includes their highest single “New World Man,” which just missed Billboard’s Top 20 pop chart), Grace Under Pressure (1984), and Power Windows (1985).
Moving Pictures is Rush’s most successful album to date, selling four million copies in Canada and the US apiece. Its single “Tom Sawyer” displayed the musical wizardry of the members and gained further exposure in the world of album-oriented rock territory. It was a modest hit on the US Hot 100 (at #44) but landed at #8 on the US mainstream rock chart. It has remained one of Rush’s most popular song.
As the 1980s was going to a close, the band was beginning to ease off the busy touring schedule; it was also at that time that they attempted to experiment with different sounds. Ifor instance, in 1987’s Hold Your Fire they tried to include Chinese music influences. It went gold, but it was a commercial disappointment compared to Rush’s previous releases. So was 1989’s Presto; although it also went gold, it was commercially and critically lukewarm.
Rush returned to their heavy rock roots with Roll The Bones (1991) and Counterparts (1993), which went to #3 and #2 on the Billboard 200 album chart, respectively. After finishing their promotional tour for their album Test For Echo (1997), Rush went into hiatus mainly due to tragedies happening in Peart’s life. During the years 1997-1998 he lost his daughter to a vehicular accident, and then his wife to cancer. Also, during the band’s hiatus Lee entered a solo career for a while.
Despite Peart’s loss of his loved ones, this didn’t cause Rush to break up. Moreover, they went back to recording their next album, Vapor Trails in 2002 which entered at #5 and #6 on the Canadian album chart and the US Billboard 200, respectively. Rush’s live album Rush In Rio was released the following year; an accompanying DVD of that live performance was also issued. The band celebrated their 30th anniversary by releasing R30 DVD and CD in 2005, chronicling the trio’s anniversary tour.
Rush released another full-length studio effort, Snakes and Arrows in 2007, which entered at #3 on both Canadian and US album charts. It was followed by their CD/DVD of Snakes & Arrows Live which documented their promotional tour of the album. Their latest studio LP ,Clockwork Angels, debuted at the top of the Canadian singles chart and #2 on the Billboard 200 album chart. The following year Rush went into the annals of history as one of the greatest rock groups as they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.