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Music

The classic Rush song inspired by Kiss

@TylerGolsen

On paper, there seems to be almost nothing to link theatrical hard rockers Kiss and progressive metal legends Rush. Kiss was all about the show they put on, disregarding the number of notes they missed and shunning complicated compositions in favour of direct rock and roll. In stark contrast, Rush were technical masters who demanded near-perfection from themselves, otherwise their elaborate arrangements would fall apart. Seeing these two bands on stage together in the 1970s could have been enough to fry two opposite sides of your brain.

If you were hanging around North America in the mid-1970s, however, you could have witnessed just that. That’s because Kiss recruited Rush as an opening act during a series of tours across America and Canada during Rush’s early days, engaging in a prank war almost as legendary as their respective careers.

Gene Simmons was particularly fond of Rush’s debut, which he called “Canadian Zeppelin” in the documentary Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage. The inclusion of drummer Neil Peart pushed Rush in a more progressive direction as they continued to evolve, but they could still find inspiration in Kiss’ unique brand of hard rock.

One song from Kiss’ sophomore album Hotter Than Hell served as an inspiration for a classic Rush album cut. ‘Goin’ Blind’ was a song that focused on a 93-year-old man’s attempt to talk, or potentially flirt, with a 16-year-old girl. In typical Kiss fashion, the track is an over-the-top rock number, this time slowed down to become a ballad about elderly horniness. 

Even though Kiss rarely played the song live, ‘Goin’ Blind’ still had a profound impact on Rush, who took the themes of age and losing one’s way and made a seriocomic response: ‘I Think I’m Going Bald’. Featured on their 1975 album Caress of Steel, ‘I Think I’m Going Bald’ had its roots in both the original Kiss song and some of the band’s own anxieties.  

“We were touring a lot with Kiss in those days and they had a song called ‘I Think I’m Going Blind.’ So we were kind of taking the piss out of that title by just coming up with this,” Geddy Lee explained. Lee also shared that Alex Lifeson was paranoid about losing his hair at the time and was using “all kinds of ingredients to put on his scalp. And I think it just got Neil thinking about ageing.” 

Check out both ‘Goin’ Blind’ and ‘I Think I’m Going Bald’ down below.