In 1969, a young Geddy Lee, merely 16, grappled with the emotional turbulence of losing his father early in life. Such pain instilled in him a keen awareness of life’s fleeting nature, pushing him to chase his dreams fiercely. Even when his mother voiced her concerns, Lee decided to leave school, firm in his decision to become a musician.
His mother’s skepticism, instead of disheartening him, fueled his determination. Their basement, which he shared with his grandmother’s cooking space, quickly transformed into a sanctuary for rock music. The sheer intensity of their practice sessions once caused such a ruckus that it sent glasses flying off the shelves, only to crash into her chicken broth.
Longing for a broader perspective and driven by ambition, Lee was lured by the allure of The Rock Pile concert in Toronto, which featured the then-emerging Led Zeppelin. Along with Alex Lifeson and their initial drummer, John Rutsey, Lee braved long hours in line to grab tickets.
The Mesmerizing Allure of Led Zeppelin
Though they were not yet a household name, Led Zeppelin, fronted by the iconic Jimmy Page, was the concert’s showstopper. After enduring a sun-baked wait, Geddy and the early Rush members snagged seats right up front. The performance was nothing short of electrifying, causing pieces of plaster to cascade down by the encore.
For Lee, Led Zeppelin was transformative. Echoing Alex Turner’s sentiments about bands during one’s formative years, Lee saw Led Zeppelin as the force that redefined his musical path.
The day Led Zeppelin’s debut album hit the shelves, Lee and his crew were the first at the local store’s doors. Racing back to his room, they were transfixed by the resonating beats of “Communication Breakdown.”
Inspiration came with its hurdles. Though Led Zeppelin’s influence on Rush was unmistakable, emulating their sound proved daunting for the young aspirants. They diligently practiced in their basement haven, yet found the complexity of Led Zeppelin’s music a challenge to capture during their early bar gigs.
Nevertheless, their efforts to emulate Led Zeppelin were instrumental in molding Rush’s unique sound, blending a myriad of influences into their compositions. Reflecting on this, Lee remarked:
“Led Zeppelin ventured where other metal bands hesitated. Perhaps it was Robert Plant’s grand, Tolkienesque lyricism. Some may not resonate with it, but to me, it was magic.”