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Music

Rush's Geddy Lee names his favourite band of all time

Former Rush frontman and bassist Geddy Lee is one of the most legendary musicians of all time. Whether it be his iconic falsetto, locomoting bass licks or affable demeanour, there are many reasons to love him. Lee is a unique phenomenon, one-third of and a vital cog in rock’s premier trio, and it is safe to say that without him, Rush would not have been the same group. 

It is only fitting for a group so idiosyncratic that each of its members brought something different to the table. The band’s late drummer, Neil Peart, is invariably hailed as one of the best of all time, guitarist Alex Lifeson is one of the most dextrous guitarists out there, and Geddy Lee’s funk-infused work remains as refreshing as it was 40 years ago. 

It was this dynamism that made Rush a powerhouse. In addition to each member being individually influential, together, they created a band that music nerds still cannot get enough of. It’s a testament to their work that some of the most iconic bands of the past 30 years cite them as an influence, ranging from Nine Inch Nails to The Smashing Pumpkins and even Jane’s Addiction. 

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But who influenced Rush? Whilst there are many outfits that the Canadians namechecked over their career, Geddy Lee cites one trio in particular as his favourite band of all time and the one that truly galvanised him, setting him on his path to greatness. 

During a 2020 article with Rolling Stone, Lee explained that English psychedelic heroes Cream are the band that had the most significant impact on him. Lee said: “(Cream) were far and away my favourite band when I got old enough to appreciate rock music, and I was getting more and more into rock. Cream was such an influence on early Rush and me as a bass player. We would do our own version of ‘Spoonful.’ We would play in the coffeehouses and the high school dances and all that stuff. We really tried to emulate Cream in the earliest days of Rush, so there was a real bond to Jack Bruce’s playing for me.” 

He continued: “And I was fortunate enough to be able to go see them in 1969 too, when they played here in Toronto at Massey Hall. I have vivid memories of it. It was just a mind-blowing moment for me. I went down by myself, ’cause I couldn’t find anyone who had either enough money or desire to see Cream that day. I’ll never forget that. He was a huge influence to me, and I stayed a fan of his through the years and through his solo work. I loved his solo work. Interesting songwriter, really emotive vocalist, and just an incredible player.”

Lee concluded: “We were in a three-piece, and we sort of modelled ourself after three-piece bands, bands like Cream, Hendrix, Blue Cheer. These were all bands we emulated in the early days. The bass player has a bigger role in that format, especially when the lead guitarist is soloing. You have to provide enough noise behind him to keep it from sounding empty. So it’s a license to be a bit obnoxious, which I always appreciated as a bass player.”

Lee’s revelation makes a lot of sense. In many ways, Rush took off from where Cream left, taking us into the future with their intergalactic sound, and as for Geddy Lee, even without this admission, the influence of Jack Bruce on his busy bass playing is crystal clear. 

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