After their debut album in 1974, many likened the Canadian band Rush to Led Zeppelin. However, their second album, “Fly By Night,” marked a distinct shift in their musical style, especially with the introduction of their new drummer, Neil Peart.
Along with Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson, Peart harbored a deep love for Progressive Rock. As a result, Rush’s music evolved, blending Hard Rock with Prog, which became their signature sound until Peart’s passing in 2020 at 67.
Geddy Lee, the band’s frontman, was arguably the most vocal about his passion for Progressive Rock. He often spoke about the genre’s greats, even identifying his top pick for the best Prog Rock bass player.
According to Geddy Lee, the Best Prog Rock Bassist Ever Is…
While the heart of Progressive Rock might have been in England, these bands always had an eye on the vast North American market. British bands touring the U.S.A. almost always added Canadian stops, and this gave a young Geddy Lee numerous opportunities to see some of his idols live.
These concerts played a pivotal role in Lee’s aspiration to pursue music. As his career progressed, Lee got to meet many of these musical heroes.
Among them was the renowned Yes bassist, Chris Squire. Lee held Squire in such high esteem that, in a 2019 interview promoting his book, he proclaimed Squire as the ultimate Progressive Rock bassist. He told UDiscover Music, “When talking about the greatest Prog Rock bassist ever, hands down, it’s Chris Squire.”
Geddy went on to emphasize the difficulty of comparing bassists across different musical styles, citing the likes of Flea and Chris Squire as masters in their respective genres.
Asked about bands he’d dreamt of joining, Lee humorously admitted that while he fantasized about stepping into roles in legendary bands like Cream or Led Zeppelin, he never believed he could truly fill their shoes. “Did I think I could play with Yes? Absolutely not, but I’d have loved to try,” he chuckled.
The Impact of Chris Squire’s Bass on Geddy Lee
Interestingly, Geddy first encountered Yes’s music through a friend. The duo often played truant, opting instead to listen to albums. One day, this friend introduced him to Yes’s “Time and a Word” from 1970. Reflecting on this experience in a Rolling Stone interview, Lee mentioned being particularly struck by Squire’s bass.
The passion didn’t stop there. Lee once waited all night in line with friends just to get Yes concert tickets, an effort that saw them drive across cities to catch multiple live performances.
Years later, in a poetic twist, Lee had the honor of inducting Yes into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The 2017 ceremony was especially memorable as Lee stood in for Squire, who had passed away two years prior, playing classics like “Roundabout” and “Owner Of a Lonely Heart”.