If you’re a true muso, it’s challenging to think of the bass guitar without an image of Rush’s Geddy Lee flooding into your mind. After all, he’s a name intrinsically linked to the instrument, and he’s one of the essential superstar bassists. With that in mind, he once even revealed the 21 songs that inspired him to devote his life to become a master of his craft.
Often, the four-string is wrongly viewed by some as the more simplistic piece of musical apparatus within the construct of a band, and Lee proved with Rush just how much could be done with the instrument, as well as how integral it can be.
Lee is eulogised in a manner that’s usually only reserved for lead guitarists and their instruments. A reason for that is unlike any band before them, and the group put his melodic basslines front and centre. Additionally, what made Rush such a dynamic sounding group was that all three group members pulled their weight equally, making Rush the biggest cult band globally.
Despite him being the vocalist, Rush always refrained from ever becoming the Geddy Lee show, a set-up that was both compelling and refreshing in equal measure. The reason thousands flocked to see a Rush show was to witness the magic that happened when they joined forces.
Tragically, Rush are no more after they revealed they simply couldn’t go on without Neil Peart at the helm of the regime on drums following his death. While their body of work is a reminder of their collective greatness, the focus here is on the stellar mastery of Lee and those who inspired him to greatness.
Thankfully, in 2019, he sat down with Amazon Music to reveal the songs that “consciously or subconsciously” have been an influence on his career, and it’s an eye-popping playlist.
“I chose these songs because I’m such a ‘bass-centric dude’, and that’s all I’ve been thinking about for the last few years,” Lee said about his choices. “Is the role of bass in popular music and what I tried to do with my book (The Beautiful Book of Bass) was provide an alternate history of popular music through the point of view of the bass player. From the murky bottom end to the twangy top end.”
Adding: “John Entwistle, Chris Squire, they were playing the kind of music I wanted to play, so they were a direct influence on the kind of player I wanted to become. But there are others that were subconscious influences, and I think we all have those when we listen to various music.”
Lee concluded, “So I mean, there is a couple of Beatles songs on here and people remember The Beatles for their tune fullness and for the great vocals. But also Paul McCartney was quite an influential bass player and if you listen to ‘Come Together’, that’s a bold bass part in that song. If you listened to ‘Taxman’, that’s heavy metal before there was heavy metal.”
The bass god’s list is eclectic, as you’d expect, and not exclusive to one genre. While Lee loves classic bands like The Beatles and Led Zeppelin, he also finds room on his playlist for more surprising acts such as Radiohead.
Check out the full playlist below.
The songs that influences Rush bassist Geddy Lee
- The Rolling Stones – ‘2120 South Michigan Avenue (Long Version)’
- The Who – ‘My Generation’
- Marvin Gaye – ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’
- The Beatles – ‘Taxman’
- Cream – ‘Crossroads’
- Led Zeppelin – ‘What It Is and It Never Should Be’
- Jefferson Airplane – ‘The Other Side of This Life’
- Yes – ‘No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed’
- Bill Bruford – ‘Joe Frazier’
- Weather Report – ‘Teen Town’
- Primus – ‘Jerry Was a Race Car Driver’
- Spencer David Group – ‘Gimme Some Lovin”
- Radiohead – ‘Paranoid Android’
- The Who – ‘The Real Me’
- Yes – ‘Heart Of The Sunrise’
- Jethro Tull – ‘Bouree’
- Lou Reed – ‘Walk On The Wild Side’
- Red Hot Chilli Peppers – ‘Give It Away’
- The Beatles – ‘Come Together’
- Led Zeppelin – ‘The Lemon Song’
- Pink Floyd – ‘Money’