The challenge Alex Lifeson had playing with Rush

Although Geddy Lee and Neil Peart were not technically original members of Rush, their arrival marked a significant upheaval in the band’s trajectory. Suddenly this was a group with more longevity than perhaps any others out there, thanks to Peart’s drumming skills and Lee’s ability to deliver guitar playing that seemed to retain its own melodic charm.

As a founding member, guitarist Alex Lifeson has seen and experienced such a transformation firsthand, while simultaneously focusing on his own technical prowess as it evolved from mere appreciation and inspiration to taking on a world of its own. Growing up studying figures like Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page, he quickly learned who was easy to copy and who wasn’t.

As he put it during an interview with Vintage guitar in 2011, Page was my “absolute guitar hero,” but he also appreciated Steve Hackett for “the way he incorporated melodies into the context of the music.” He also explained how his development in the early days focused on simplicity: “Clapton’s solos seemed a little easier and more accessible,” he said. “I remember sitting at my record player and moving the needle back and forth to get the solo in ‘Spoonful’. But I couldn’t do anything with Hendrix.’

For a band like Rush, which employs an ethos that Lee once summed up as “more is more,” being a guitarist requires not only skill, but also loyalty and the ability to keep up. Complexity is key in this arena, and exploding on stage, so to speak, was their whole appeal. For Lee, the bass guitar wasn’t just a necessary piece of the puzzle; it was an integral part that had the power to facilitate entire melodies.

Lee had fallen in love with the bass guitar at an early age and found inspiration in artists such as Roy Orbison, particularly his song “Pretty Woman” and the “tone of the guitar” in the song that “stood out” to him, causing him to take notice. for the first time the complexity of such an instrument. “It changed my life,” the musician said, recalling the first time he played guitar as a child, “that stupid little guitar.”

What started as a more light-hearted interest soon became a clear calling, and Lee became more fixated on the entire art form than anything he had ever enjoyed growing up, largely because of the extent to which it gave him a sense of belonging. As Lifeson recalled, “From the very beginning, (Lee) was always a more focused musician. It wasn’t really about being in a rock band; he always set a high standard for his own playing.”

His tremendous technical nature and loyalty to his craft made Lifeson feel challenged in his own contributions, especially as Lee “worked hard at every aspect of being a musician.” As the guitarist put it, “One of the challenging things for me, as a guitarist playing with him, and (Peart), for that matter, is how active they’ve always been.”

However, instead of being frustrated with their efforts, Lifeson was amazed. In his own words: “It’s great. The little melodies he incorporates and the little things he does that a lot of other bass players might not do (is great).” Each member of Rush may be extraordinary in their own right and hold themselves to their own high standards, but in the beginning it was their willingness that led them to become the leaders of an entire genre.

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