There are countless reasons why Rush are one of the most revered bands of all time. Principally though, this is because each of its three members, frontman and bassist Geddy Lee, guitarist Alex Lifeson and late drummer Neil Peart, are all virtuosos, creating a type of magic unlike anything we’d ever seen.
Each member ranks among the most influential musicians in their respective fields and have inspired numerous ensuing legends to learn the ways of rock ‘n’ roll and take the big step onto the stage.
As a bassist, Geddy Lee is one of the finest in history. His style merges hard rock with jazz, and in playing his bass akin to a lead guitar, he dovetailed with Lifeson to create a punchy and locomoting sound that is instantly recognisable.
As for Neil Peart, he is perhaps the most significant rock drummer of all time, alongside John Bonham and Ginger Baker. It’s no coincidence that his skills are still what young drummers aspire to impersonate nearly 50 years after Rush first broke through. Leaning from the best, such as Gene Krupa and Buddy Guy, Peart gave Rush the dynamic prowess that made them stand out from the crowd. Yes, they were prog, but they were so much more than that, and this was thanks to him.
Then we have Alex Lifeson, the master of the lick. The first true alt-metal guitarist, the names counts as disciples are genuinely astounding. They include James Hetfield of Metallica, Jim Martin of Faith No More, John Petrucci of Dream Theater and Steven Wilson, and they are just the tip of the iceberg.
Technically proficient and able to straddle numerous different styles in one song, Lifeson gave Rush the frills they needed to take their music to truly stratospheric levels. I’d argue that Lifeson was the real power behind Rush’s music and is undoubtedly the most overlooked of the three in terms of mainstream acknowledgement.
He’s created some of the most complex and densely composed guitar parts in the history of popular music, taking his cues from classic rock acts such as The Who, Jeff Beck, and his favourite musician of all time, Jimi Hendrix. However, there is another band that Alex Lifeson loves, and that is London’s finest rock rabble, The Rolling Stones, and their own resident guitar hero, Keith Richards, was a significant inspiration to Lifeson when he was just a learner guitarist.
Opening us up to how he formed his unmistakable playing style, as part of an interview with Guitar World, Lifeson picked a collection of his favourite songs of all time, and as part of this selection, he named his most-loved Rolling Stones cut.
He chose the iconic 1965 hit ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’, and even though Keith Richards’ guitar playing on the track is fairly simple, the riff is one of the most legendary in rock. Through Lifeson picking this song, an uncomplicated but effective motif, you start to understand just how he formed his aptitude for devising simple but powerful riffs.
Listen to ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’ below.