Why Geddy Lee Switched From Guitar to Bass + How He Joined Rush
As the bassist – and keyboardist/vocalist – for Rush, Geddy Lee is among the most cherished musicians in all of progressive rock. Hence, it’s always fascinating when he speaks about joining the band and/or settling on his main instrument, as he did with AXS TV’s Dan Rather.
During their lengthy 2017 chat, Lee spoke about growing up in Toronto, switching from guitar to bass and eventually getting to know guitarist Alex Lifeson (real name: Aleksandar Živojinović).
He began by revealing how he got into making music in the first place: “Because [my mom] wasn’t around, I think that I had a little more freedom than your average kid, and I got in with a bad crowd. A crowd that loved rock music, and it sort of was my first taste of playing music and I got the bug quite early.”
I first bought an acoustic guitar – I begged my mom to loan me some money to buy the acoustic guitar from the guy who lived next door. He had a beautiful acoustic guitar that had palm trees painted on it, and I had to have it. . . . I was about 12, and I played in a little band of neighbors. I think we called ourselves the Dusty Coconuts back then. We would meet at our friend’s house.
I was playing guitar at the time, and then we were told that the mother of the kid who was supposed to play bass – his mother wouldn’t let him be in the band anymore. They voted and said that I was gonna be the new bass player. So, I went back to my mom and I begged her to lend me money to buy a bass guitar. . . . I bought my first electric bass guitar and sort of haven’t looked back.
As for how he met Lifeson:
I was in junior high school at the time. Around that same time, there was a fellow in my class named Aleksandar Živojinović and we both sat at the back of the class. He was really funny, and we sort of connected. He played guitar, and before you know it, we were starting to jam together. I didn’t know at the time that I’d spend the rest of my life with this crazy Serbian guy.
He was actually in a band called Rush. I wasn’t . . . a founding member. I was just a pal. They were scheduled to do a show at a local drop-in center, which was in the basement of a church. Their bass player couldn’t make it for some reason and Al called me up in a panic, saying, “Do you think you can play the gig with us?” I went, “Sure.” I went down and I learned the songs that afternoon. I think we only knew about four songs anyway. . . . We did the gig and then went to the local deli for French fries and gravy, which was the tradition. That’s how my career with Al started.
The rest, as they say, is history.
So, what do you think of Lee’s stories? Which Rush album is your favorite? Let us know!
Also, be sure to watch the full clip below.