The progressive rock group RUSH, formed decades ago in the Toronto suburbs by guitarist Alex Lifeson, bassist/vocalist Geddy Lee and drummer Neil Peart, became Canada’s most legendary rock band ever, with more than 40 million albums sold. Lifeson and Lee — author of a new memoir, “My Effin’ Life” — recently talked with “CBS News Sunday Morning” correspondent Jim Axelrod about their particular blend of musicianship, stagecraft and goofiness; how tragedy upended the band with the death of Peart; and what might constitute RUSH‘s next chapter. Watch the segment below.
Regarding what “the next chapter” might look like for him and Lee without Peart, Lifeson said: “Yeah, it’s difficult to figure out what that chapter is without him.”
Asked if he and Alex have ever talked about, “Let’s go get one of the great drummers and tour again”, Geddy said: “Have we talked about it? Yeah.” Pressed about whether it will happen, Lee said: “It’s not impossible, but at this point, I can’t guarantee it.”
Alex, meanwhile, struck a more hopeful note, saying: “It’s just not in our DNA to stop.”
Added Geddy: “Do what you believe, because if you do what someone else believes, and you fail, you’ve got nothing. If you do what you believe, and you fail, you still have hope.”
Last month, Geddy was asked by the Los Angeles Times if there could ever be another RUSH show. Geddy said: “There could be a show that paid tribute to the songs of RUSH. I would never say there will never be another RUSH show. We get approached all the time.”
Pressed about whether drummers ever say, “If you continue without Neil, I’m available”, Geddy said: “Again, all the time. At the Taylor Hawkins tribute concert [in September 2022], Alex and I played with Dave Grohl and a bunch of other drummers. Neil would have loved it. I know he was looking down at us — or looking up at us [laughs] — and thinking, ‘Fuck, that would have been fun.'”
Lee previously discussed the possibility of making new music in a separate interview with Long Island Weekly. During that chat, he said: “I recently discovered a couple of songs that had been left off my solo album [2000’s ‘My Favourite Headache’). Listening to them was really quite fun and I decided that I wanted to see about fixing those up and just breathing some fresh air into them. And that experience reminded me of how much fun I have in the studio. So of course, my lifelong buddy and bandmate Alex and I would like to get back into the studio together and see what might happen. I have ideas that I’d like to flesh out on my own too. Once I finish all this crazy crap that I agreed to do — the book tour and the TV show and find some space for myself — I’d certainly like to start playing something. But I can’t tell you right now because I’m just book touring it until I drop. And then I’ll see where I land after I have a nice holiday with my wife and we’ll go from there. I don’t like to plan too far ahead anymore. I was scheduled up the wazoo with my partners in RUSH for over 45 years. Now, I have to prioritize other things.”
To date, Lee has only released one solo album, the aforementioned “My Favourite Headache”. The disc was recorded during a time when RUSH‘s future was uncertain. The band was in the midst of what would be a five-year break from the road following the tragic deaths of drummer Neil Peart‘s daughter and wife in 1997 and 1998, respectively.
In a recent interview with The Washington Post, Lee spoke about reuniting with Lifeson for last year’s star-studded tribute concerts — one in London, one in Los Angeles — to pay tribute to late FOO FIGHTERS drummer Taylor Hawkins. They enlisted a few drummers — TOOL‘s Danny Carey, Omar Hakim, RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS‘ Chad Smith and Dave Grohl — to join them at the gigs. At the after-party, Paul McCartney congratulated them and urged them to get back on the road.
“It had been a taboo subject, and playing those songs again with a third person was the elephant in the room, and that kind of disappeared,” Lee told The Washington Post. “It was nice to know that if we decide to go out, Alex and I, whether we went out as part of a new thing, or whether we just wanted to go out and play RUSH as RUSH, we could do that now.”
Geddy also revealed that in October 2022, for the first time in years, Lee and Lifeson went down into Lee‘s home studio and jammed.
Although Lifeson was “excited as offers rolled in after the Hawkins shows,” he ended up undergoing surgery in July for his long-standing stomach problems.
Asked if he plans on nudging his pal to get back onstage, Lee told The Washington Post: “He needs to feel good and feel healthy and strong. And then maybe we have a discussion.”
A year and a half ago, Lifeson told Guitar World in an interview that he hadn’t ruled out making new music with Lee. “We’re not putting any pressure on it or anything,” he said. “We had a lot of good years together and we still love each other very much. I talk to Geddy every other day — we’re best friends. There’s more to our life together than just writing music. So if it happens, it happens. And it’ll happen when it happens.”
Peart died in January 2020 after a three-year battle with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. He was 67 years old.
RUSH waited three days to announce Peart‘s passing, setting off shockwaves and an outpouring of grief from fans and musicians all over the world.
“My Effin’ Life” was released on November 14 by HarperCollins. The book, which was edited Noah Eaker, is 512 pages and is available as a hardcover or as an e-book.
“CBS News Sunday Morning” features stories on the arts, music, nature, entertainment, sports, history, science and Americana, and highlights unique human accomplishments and achievements. Check local listings for “CBS News Sunday Morning” broadcast times.