History of Rush

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Although not always the darlings of mainstream critics, award-winning Canadian rock band Rush has remained one of the most esteemed pillars of hard and progressive rock, maintaining a fiercely loyal fan base throughout their career. Known for their complex compositions and science fiction-themed lyrics, the band has consistently pushed the boundaries of rock music. The core trio of guitarist Alex Lifeson, singer/bassist Geddy Lee, and drummer/primary lyricist Neil Peart are all considered virtuosos in their own right, contributing to Rush’s distinctive sound and enduring legacy.

Rush logo

Early Beginnings

Rush was formed in Toronto, Ontario in 1968, initially comprising Alex Lifeson, Geddy Lee, and drummer John Rutsey. The band quickly gained a reputation on the local music circuit for their hard rock sound, leading to the release of their self-titled debut album in 1974. This album, brimming with hard rock and heavy metal influences, achieved gold status in both Canada and the United States, establishing the band’s presence in the rock scene.

Lineup Change and Breakthrough

Rush

Before the release of their second album, Rutsey left the band due to health issues and was replaced by Neil Peart. Peart’s arrival marked a significant turning point for Rush, as he also took on the role of the band’s primary lyricist. Rush released their second album, Fly By Night, in 1975, followed by Caress of Steel later that year. Both albums showcased the band’s growing interest in progressive rock, featuring more complex compositions and lyrical themes.

The Epic “2112”

Rush’s breakthrough came with the release of 2112 in 1976. This science fiction-themed concept album was a critical and commercial success, despite mixed reviews from some critics. The title track, an epic suite that occupies the entire first side of the record, became one of Rush’s most iconic songs. The success of 2112 set the stage for a string of platinum albums, including A Farewell to Kings (1977), Hemispheres (1978), Permanent Waves (1980), and Moving Pictures (1981).

Commercial Success and Experimentation

Moving Pictures remains Rush’s most successful album to date, selling over four million copies in both Canada and the U.S. The album features the hit single “Tom Sawyer,” which has become one of the band’s signature songs. Throughout the 1980s, Rush continued to experiment with their sound, incorporating elements of electronic music and exploring new lyrical themes. Albums like Signals (1982), Grace Under Pressure (1984), and Power Windows (1985) demonstrated the band’s willingness to evolve and innovate.

Challenges and Triumphs

Neil Peart

As the 1980s came to a close, Rush began to scale back their relentless touring schedule and experimented with different musical influences. Hold Your Fire (1987) incorporated Chinese musical elements but was a commercial disappointment compared to their previous releases. Similarly, Presto (1989) received lukewarm reviews despite achieving gold status.

In the early 1990s, Rush returned to their heavier rock roots with albums like Roll the Bones (1991) and Counterparts (1993), both of which charted highly on the Billboard 200. However, personal tragedies struck in the late 1990s when Neil Peart lost his daughter in a car accident and his wife to cancer. These events led to a hiatus for the band, during which Geddy Lee pursued a solo career.

Geddy Lee

Return and Continued Legacy

Despite these hardships, Rush reunited and released Vapor Trails in 2002, which was well-received and marked a successful comeback. Their subsequent live album, Rush in Rio (2003), and the R30 DVD/CD (2005) celebrated the band’s 30th anniversary. In 2007, Rush released Snakes & Arrows, which debuted at number three on both the Canadian and U.S. album charts.

Their final studio album, Clockwork Angels (2012), also achieved significant commercial success, debuting at number one in Canada and number two in the U.S. In 2013, Rush was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, cementing their status as one of the greatest rock bands of all time.

Conclusion

Throughout their illustrious career, Rush has remained a beacon of musical integrity and innovation. Their complex compositions, thought-provoking lyrics, and virtuosic musicianship have earned them a permanent place in the annals of rock history. From their humble beginnings in Toronto to their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Rush’s legacy continues to inspire musicians and fans around the world.

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