My 30 Year Journey to Meet Geddy Lee of RUSH
For more than 30 years I have been a die hard fan of hard progressive rock group RUSH.
Founded in Canada in the late 60s by guitarist Alex Lifeson and bassist Geddy Lee, RUSH’s first self-titled album was released in 1974.
Their second Album Fly by Night was released in 1975 and by then included their permanent drummer and third pillar, Neil Peart.
These three musicians are revered masters of their instruments and have built a rabid devoted and maniacal fanbase over the decades. The music of RUSH defies description — mind blowing, powerful, progressive, complex and intricate yet with unforgettable melody, rhythms, riffs, and hooks. It is like no other rock music.
In the mid-eighties as a teenager I first discovered the profoundness of RUSH and so too became a devoted and fanatical fan. Geddy Lee has been an inspiration and a hero to me. I learned to play the bass and have been playing regularly and in bands for the past 35 years.
Every RUSH album I have met with intense longing and intensive listening and diligently attending the concerts that accompany them.
RUSH’s music has been the soundtrack for my life. Their songs strike some primeval and deep chord set in my brain and soul. The music is so powerful to me and is like nothing else I have ever heard. Nothing.
It has been my dream for all these years to somehow meet Geddy. Not only have I fantasized about it but have experienced many actual sleep dreams of meeting him.
I have tried to meet him by entering meet and greet contests and never winning. The closest I have ever come has been in front row seats at concerts.
RUSH stopped playing and writing after their last tour in 2015, called R40, and us RUSH fans have since laid in wait, hoping somehow, just somehow, it was not over.
This year I learned that Alex and Geddy would be hosting a charitable event called Grapes Under Pressure to support their Canada-based charity Grapes for Humanity that raises funds through wine tasting affairs for use in helping disadvantaged children and elderly around the world.
And so after more than 30 years my dream finally came true. With a donation and a plane ride to Toronto I was in position to meet Geddy.
We boarded the train in Toronto to the Peller Winery estate for the event. First I heard him on the speaker and then in a surreal moment he and Alex walked along the train shaking hands and exchanging words with the approximately 150 attendees. After a few moments of waiting and watching I shook Geddy’s hand and looked him in the eyes. It was a surreal moment and I couldn't believe it was true. That first encounter was very brief.
Two hours later we arrived at the estate and upon walking on the grounds there he was right in front of me just standing around chatting with Alex.
In the moment I had truly been waiting for I was able to walk up and tell Geddy firsthand how much he and his music meant to me and my life and how my dream of decades was taking place at that moment. He was genuine and gracious and said it meant a lot to him. I gave him a small gift of a miniature Rickenbacker black and white bass pendant which he thought was nice. We took a selfie together and my life was complete. My number one bucket list item had been checked off.
Afterwards I also had the chance to chat with Alex Lifeson who was equally gracious and forthcoming.
I asked Alex if he still stayed in touch with Neil. He absolutely confirmed that.
Next I inquired if there was any chance Rush may once again make new music. “No,” he replied. Zero percent I asked? “Zero” he answered.
Alex did admit he continued to be creative. He said he was playing guitar every day and was working on collaborations with other musicians.
As for Geddy he has been wrapping up the writing of his Big Beautiful Book of Bass. We shook hands one last time as I boarded the train back to Toronto. He confirmed when I asked him that he would be doing a book signing tour. I told him I would see him again at that time.
And so we seem to have to accept the days of new RUSH songs and tours is over, but it sure was a terrific run while it lasted. Over 40 years of playing and touring and 19 studio albums. Very few bands ever reach this pinnacle of success and amount of giving to their fans.
Now I have turned my passion for RUSH into playing the bass in my very own metro NY based RUSH tribute band called Middletown Dreamers.
We started the band about a year ago and have played about 6 shows so far and are looking forward to more next year. In fact two of my bandmates accompanied me to meet Geddy and Alex. Be sure to like us on Facebook and come out and join the fun.
And remember whatever your dreams may be, never give up. If you persevere they too may come true.