Hail Rush! These 5 Bands Cite Rush As A Major Musical Influence

alex3For over 40 years progressive rock group Rush has motivated a myriad of fans into becoming artists. To truly understand their work is to delve deeply into their unique collection of over 20 albums and listen to their wealth of sounds and styles. As their industry changing style has proven, with a dream and unique sound, truly great things can happen.

The group first formed in 1970 when Toronto based, high school friends, lead singer and bassist Geddy Lee, guitarist Alex Lifeson, and drummer John Rutsey, having all been fans of British rock and early metal, decided to experiment and play together as a group. Eventually, due to health issues, Rutsey left the group, being replaced by now legendary drummer Neil Peart.

In this article we will discuss some of the amazing acts that this act has influenced with their eclectic style and fantastic lyrics.

1. The Foo Fighters
This Seattle group, which is considered to be the spiritual successor of mega-group Nirvana, has been one of the most widely known artists of the last two decades. Lead by lead guitarist, front man and former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl, their own unique sound has drawn a lot of influence from Geddy Lee and crew.

Grohl himself a famous drummer and vocalist, cites Lee’s vocals and Peart’s famous drum beats as major influences. During the group’s induction into the rock and roll hall of fame, Grohl and his fellow Foo Fighter member Taylor Hawkins, were selected to provide the accompanying speech.

2. Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor

Not many artists are as famously multi-instrumental as Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor. A complex talent, Reznor has performed in various positions in the entertainment industry, from working behind the scenes as a song producer, to his vocal and instrumental duties for NIN. Not afraid to experiment since the 1980s, Reznor is considered one the the recording industries’ most prominent Jack of all Trades.

In an interview in 2010 Reznor said the famous act was, “One of the best bands ever” and stated that the sound from the group’s offering Signals in 1982 was one of the motivating factors in his inclusion of keyboards into his performances.

3. Smashing Pumpkins

There are few artists in existence which exemplify the dynamic world of alternative music better than Billy Corgan’s Smashing Pumpkins. Rocketing to stardom with their complex offering Siamese Dream, Smashing Pumpkins is still to this day making excellent records. Corgan, a known auteur has created a constantly evolving, yet identifiable sound throughout the years. Known for layering guitars, he has cited on numerous occasions that his influences have ranged from the heavy metal songs of the 70’s and 80s to the arena sound typical of groups like KISS.

Recently in an interview about Rush in Hollywood, Corgan said, “If you had told me in Chicago when I was a kid that I’d be introducing them someday for their Hollywood star, I wouldn’t have believed it, because they were literally my favorite band when I was a kid.” He has also stated in the past that some of the distinct sounds that he has created, including his famously creative guitar layering, was directly as result of Geddy Lee and crew’s guitar-laden influence.

4. Dream Theater

Dream Theater, the technical juggernaut of progressive metal, has been filling arenas with their creative authenticity and expertise since the eighties. Their sound, which explores their singular expertise using various instruments has been appreciated for many years. Formed in 1985 by guitarist John Petrucci, bassist John Myung, and drummer Mike Portnoy originally played under the name Majesty, and has been rocking auditoriums for nearly three decades.

Of all the groups listed, Geddy Lee and his groupmates’ influence is most clear here. In 2014 John Pertucci said, “If I had to pick a favorite band of all time, it would be Rush. As a teenager, I was already familiar with the group and its albums like Moving Pictures and Signals. But once I discovered 2112, it opened me up to this whole concept that rock music could be bigger than just a tune—that it could be used as a vehicle to tell a story or to transport you to some other world.”

Also to this day, a Dream Theater performance is a great place to hear some amazing covers.

5. Rage Against the Machine

Socially Rebellious artists Rage Against the Machine, while currently not recording and in a hiatus, was one of the more riotous acts to debut in the later 1990s-early 2000s. Their authority shrugging style and raucous lyrics made for incredibly exciting concerts and left an indelible mark on music history.

Tom Morello the eclectic guitarist of Rage once said, “I was always drawn to metal, but the devil stuff and the groupie stuff never really spoke to me. But they were great musicians. Three of the greatest musicians on their particular instrument somehow all managed to be in one band.”

Five history making artists all drawing influence from another history making act? Clearly this displays the reciprocal nature of the music business and how much a group can influence later generations of music makers. What will be interesting is observing how these groups themselves influence the next generation.

Rush Through The Years: Album Cover Art

Over the years, progressive rock has garnered a well deserved reputation for giving the world some of the most creative album art. In addition to the famously epic musical creations created by groups such as Yes, Kansas and others, progressive rock has long been known for iconic album cover imagery. Just think of the famous prism on “Dark Side of the Moon.”

Solid Entertainment And Classic Imagery

When it comes to graphic imagery, Rush has long been known as one of the bands with the biggest budgets and grandest imaginations. Rush albums are known for thought provoking images, which are frequently filled with puns, in-jokes, and hints as to the content Neil Peart’s lyrical matter.

Rush albums have always striven to give the listener just a little bit more than mere casual entertainment. Sure, there’s plenty of virtuoso soloing and headbanging riffs to be found on every one of them. But there’s also plenty of thematic lyrical content for fans to ponder over. And one of the chief components of the group’s lasting appeal has been their penchant for classic visual imagery on nearly all of their releases.

The Most Famous Graphic Designmovingpic

While records such as Hemispheres, Grace Under Pressure, and Fly By Night all have memorable and creative cover designs, one would be hard pressed to find a more iconic candidate for the title of “Most Famous Rush Graphic Design” than Moving Pictures. It’s a true classic, and also a real head-scratcher.

The image of the hirsute men in red uniforms delivering (or is it pilfering?) the classic art to or from the grand looking building really manages to set the listener’s expectation that something grand lies in store for them once they put the needle on the record (or, these days, press “Play”). It’s a truly intriguing mix of color, content, and creative presentation that every prog rock fan has probably spent hours questioning and analyzing!

Graphic artist Hugh Syme won a “Best Album Graphics” Juno Award for Moving Pictures. You can view an interview with Mike Dixon, who worked with Syme and played the role of one of the movers moving a painting on the legendary Moving Pictures album. It was actually shot as a movie in front of the Ontario Legislative Building in Toronto. Syme was the creative genius behind several of Rush’s cover art, including 2112, A Farewell to Kings, Hemispheres, Grace Under Pressure, Exit Stage Left, Signals and many others.


One of the most iconic and enduring of all Rush albums, past and present, is 2112. The famous red star emblazoned on the cover has been the object of endless controversy and speculation among fans and critics of the long running group. Does the red star signify the infamous Satanic pentagram? Is it an homage to the red star of Communism? What’s it all about? Syme was  the logo’s creative instigator.

As it turns out, the famous five pointed explosion of color isn’t meant to be any of those things. Neil Peart, who penned the lyrics of the epic 20-minute title track, meant the red star to be a representation of the United Federation of Planets, the mythical galactic government that causes all the trouble for the song’s youthful protagonist (and, no, this article won’t provide any further spoilers as to the song’s plot line!). The recent reissue edition includes liner notes from Peart that go further into the matter, and also reveal that part of the inspiration came from his reading of famous Libertarian author Ayn Rand.

The Most Underrated Rush Album Design

While the group has always striven to provide its listeners with the ultimate quality product, it is true that a few of their releases have been less than stellar when it comes to the artwork provided. For example, their debut was a hurried affair, recorded on a shoestring budget with minimal funds left over to pay for the sleeve art.

However, since most of the group’s releases have been hotly anticipated and very well received, it was bound to happen that a few of them have been overlooked or lost in the shuffle. Fly By Night, in particular, is an album that many Rush fans rate less highly than they should. Not only do many fans of the group overlook the ground breaking synthesis of Zeppelin-ish hard rock and Yes-styled prog, but they also forget about one of the sleeve designs that practically defined their early era.

The simple, somewhat amateurish, presentation of a giant owl like creature touching down on a snowy Canadian field might be somewhat dated and comical by today’s sophisticated and exacting standards. However, in the far off days of the mid 1970s, such imagery was par for the course, and certainly helped to set the tone for the music that discerning listeners hoped to discover within. Fly By Night was also, of course, the first release to feature new drummer Neil Peart, so a bit of imaginative imagery was quite in order to mark the occasion.

Rush: The Early Years

alex lifeson rushThe first glimmerings of Rush began in a Toronto, Ontario, suburb in 1968 when guitarist Alex Lifeson and drummer John Rutsey, who were classmates, formed a band with bassist and lead vocalist Jeff Jones. According to biographer Bill Banasiewicz, Jones was the motivator behind the band, encouraging them to be diligent in their practice schedules. However, Jones soon left the band. Geddy Lee and his inimitable voice replaced Jones, and the legendary Canadian progressive rock band was launched. Both Lifeson and Lee changed their given names, originally Alexander Zivojinovich and Gary Lee Weinrib respectively.

The First Single

The band bounced around the Toronto bar scene for a while and then released its first single in 1973. Entitled “Not Fade Away,” it was a variation of a Buddy Holly song. Side B contained a unique synthesis, “You Can’t Fight It,” credited to Lee and Rutsey. The single didn’t attract much interest, and as a result the band was released from their contract. The band decided to form its own label, Moon Records.

Rush released its first album, Rush, in 1974. Rush got very little traction until the record was noticed by WMMS, a radio station in Cleveland, Ohio. Donna Halper, a music executive and DJ working at the station, chose “Working Man” for her play lists. Reportedly, callers called the station to ask about the new Led Zeppelin single. Mercury Records picked up the album and U.S. sales began to take off.

Goodbye Rutsey, Hello Neil Peart!

Soon after the album release in 1974, Rutsey left the band due to health problems related to diabetes. His last gig was on July 25, 1974, at Centennial Hall in London, Ontario. Rush held tryouts for another drummer, and in the long run chose Neil Peart as Rutsey’s replacement. Peart formally joined Rush on July 29, 1974, two weeks prior to the group’s first U.S. concert. On August 14th, the new Rush lineup performed its first show together, opening for Uriah Heep and Manfred Mann. More than 11,000 fans watched the show at the  Civic Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

New Lyrics

When Peart joined the band as a drummer, he also became the band’s lyricist. Despite writing the lyrics for the first album, Lee reportedly had very little enthusiasm for composing. Instead, Lee focused on the instrumental parts of Rush’s music. Fly By Night (1975), Rush’s first album with Peart, introduced its first epic song, “By-Tor and the Snow Dog,” packed with complex fantastical lyrics. This album was reasonably well-received. Peart’s talent for writing philosophical and mythological lyrics, combined with Lee’s iconic voice, eventually made Rush songs instantly recognizable. Soon after, Rush released Caress of Steal, a five-track collection, but this album didn’t appeal to fans as much as Fly By Night had. It contained two developed multi-part tunes, “The Necromancer” and “The Fountain of Lamneth.” Critics said the album was unfocused and a big deviation from Fly By Night.

he following year, Rush released two albums, Fly by Night and Caress of Steel. The group’s big breakthrough came the following year with the release of the album 2112. The album featured a 20-minute title track divided into seven sections. It went platinum in Canada, and Rush hit the road, touring the U.S. and Canada. – See more at:

The Leap Forward

Rush’s leap forward rode on the backs of its next release, 2112, which helped define the inimitable sound that still defines Rush today. The 20-minute title track was divided into seven segments. The collection was the first taste of financial success and the first platinum record in Canada. The supporting tour for 2112 grew and finally finished with three nights at Massey Hall in Toronto. The three concerts were recorded and became the first live collection titled All the World’s a Stage. “Allmusic” commentator Greg Prato noted that the collection separates the limit between their initial years and the following period of their music.

Solidifying Their Sound

After 2112, they moved to the United Kingdom to record A Farewell to Kings (1977) and Hemispheres (1978) at Rockfield Studios in Wales. Both albums were considered to be more progressive rock. According to, Lee said about the albums:

“As our tastes got more obscure, we discovered more progressive rock–based bands like Yes, Van der Graaf Generator and King Crimson, and we were very inspired by those bands. They made us want to make our music more interesting and more complex, and we tried to blend that with our own personalities to see what we could come up with that was indisputably us.”

In 1980, Rush released Permanent Waves, which was the first deviation from the longer, epic-ish songs Rush was know for and became a Top Five seller in the U.S. The songs were shorter and more radio-friendly, which appealed to a broader audience. At this point, Rush was on a straight trajectory to becoming one the most successful bands in the world. One year later, Rush released Moving Pictures, which became the biggest success as of yet, with songs such as “Tom Sawyer,” “Limelight,” “Red Barchetta,” and “YYZ.”

Rush was here to stay.

What’s So Special About Rush’s Alex Lifeson?

When it comes to making rock and roll history, there are two ways you can go. You can concentrate on your personalalex lifeson, rush image, e.g., being the center of attention in the media 24/7 a la Scott Weiland or the late Keith Moon. Or, you can downsize your ego and let the music do the talking. Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson has chosen the latter course, and the results have been nothing less than spectacular.

Sometimes Nice Guys Finish First
Alex has always shown himself to be a humble, very down to Earth kind of guy. This is no idle fan boy B.S. In a world full of phonies, hypocrites, and flashes in the pan, Alex and the rest of the band have really walked the walk as well as talked the talk. Alex’s inimitable speech at the legendary Rock and Roll Hall of Fame really proved decades of fans right about his take-no-prisoners attitude toward critical acceptance. The band is all about its fans, and the “public pundits” can put up or shut up.

alex lifeson & geddy leeLong time lovers of classic progressive rock will be familiar with the group and its commitment to placing the music above all other considerations. As a legendary artist and musician who has more than his share of awards from the industry, Alex is the rare example of a creator who doesn’t let a sense of self importance and entitlement destroy his ability to inspire and entertain his legions of adoring fans.

The next time you’re in the mood for some sweet progressive sounds, try the title track of the “2112” album. In the space of twenty minutes, you’ll encounter a sonic landscape of varying textures, moods, and atmospheres that is truly second to none. From bombastic riff crunching to subtle, plaintive unplugged musing, you’ll hear a true master at the top of his game.

Lifeson Makes Music Happen
It’s pointless to try to describe the exact sound of Rush to people who have never previously taken the trouble to hear it. Suffice to say that the group came of age during the heady days of progressive music in the early to mid 1970’s, releasing classic albums such as “Fly By Night,” “2112,” and “Hemispheres.” As the lead guitarist of the group, Lifeson was instrumental in creating the unique sound and personality that defined these albums.

Lifeson’s expert soloing and lyrical, flowing prowess on the guitar helped the group to stand out from its peers. The combination of Neil Peart’s philosophically based lyrics, Geddy Lee’s high and extremely unique voice, and Lifeson’s virtuoso soloing skills was sufficient to make Rush the kings of the progressive sound in their native Canada and, soon after, the world. Without Lifeson at the helm, the sonic elixir that the group produced would never have been the same. Just try to imagine them with Slash or Ace Frehley as their lead soloist!
alex lifeson, rush
In a celebrity culture filled with huge egos, Rush’s Alex Lifeson has managed to make a name for himself based on his musical ability and humble personality. His musical accomplishments speak for themselves. If you’re searching for proof of the old adage that good guys sometimes do finish first, Alex Lifeson is a prime example.

What are your favorite Lifeson solos? Share your thoughts with fellow Rush fans.

Finally, Rush Tours Again!

When you think of Canadian progressive rock, you naturally think of Rush. Sure, some know-it-all types will beg to differ concerning the group’s quintessential importance to the music scene in the 1970’s – and in the 21st century, for that matter. But, rest assured, when the final chapter is written on classic progressive rock from the Great White North, it will be Rush that gets the central role in the saga.movingpic rush album cover

To date, the group has released two dozen albums, sold millions of records and played thousands of shows. The unique lyric style and drumming virtuosity of Neil Peart, coupled with the inimitable voice and bass skills of Geddy Lee, forms a solid foundation for the soloing skills of Alex Lifeson, one of the foremost electric guitarists of his generation.

Falling Record Sales Are An Issue

They may be the national treasure of Canada, but even our heroes can’t fix the sad state of the record industry in the 21st century. American veterans of the scene, such as Kiss and Aerosmith, have released records in the past few years which have sold in pitiful quantities compared to the gold and platinum heights they once scaled.

American record sales have fallen by an astonishing 80 percent in the past few years. And Canadian figures aren’t much better. Even when you add in the international totals, the outlook for a new studio album is rather grim. Of course, one should never say never, but it seems that the 2015 national celebration of the band’s history will probably be accompanied by a new DVD or anniversary-themed compilation, rather than a brand new studio release.

And who wants to hear a drum solo while sitting at their laptop? The place to hear music is on the live stage, and let’s be thankful that the band still brings their “A” game to each and every concert they play.

2014: The Long Layoff

However, long time fans of the group were in for a rude shock during the course of 2014. The trio suddenly ceased performing, preferring to remain oddly dormant. Many critics and aficionados were left scratching their heads and wondering if this strange silence signaled the end of the road for the Canadian powerhouse.

Even though the group didn’t tour behind their “Clockwork Angels” release, it didn’t mean that they were ready to throw in the towel. The group is simply taking time off to rest. After all, the group has been on a seemingly endless cycle of recording and performing for the past decade.

As it happens, 2015 will mark the 40th anniversary of drummer and lyric wizard Neil Peart’s first appearance on an album by the group: The immortal rock classic, “Fly By Night.” As every concert goer knows, no show would be complete without a Neil Peart tour de force on the drums. It seems likely that a 40th anniversary celebration of Peart’s arrival will be cause for an extra special show of virtuoso skill on his part.

Working up the energy to travel and perform music all over the world takes its toll on these hardened veterans of the progressive rock scene, especially after four decades. However, for the next touring cycle in 2015, electric guitar wizard Alex Lifeson promises some well-earned surprises and thrills for their legions of long time fans, in Canada and beyond, who have stayed loyal to the group, including the performance of some rarely heard 1970’s classics.

And, finally, in 2015, they’re going to play live again. Granted, they’ve certainly not been slackers in the live performance arena in the past. In fact, the group has been on a seemingly nonstop treadmill of sorts for quite some time. Over the past ten years, the group has released several studio albums, all of which have been accompanied by jaunts all across the civilized world.

The announcement that the group will play live in 2015 is the very best news long time fans could receive for the new year.

What is your most memorable Rush concert? Share your memories with other Rush fans.

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