None of the Rush band members would ever look down on any particular genre of music. Throughout the ’70s, this Canadian trio led the way in progressive rock, but their repertoire was far from limited, drawing from diverse genres including reggae, akin to The Police, and the intense vibes characteristic of bands like Black Sabbath. Geddy Lee, in particular, was a melting pot of musical influences, but one band notably left an indelible mark on him when he first encountered their sound.
During Rush’s formative years, Lee was heavily influenced by the British Invasion. While bands like Yes and Genesis profoundly influenced Rush’s style, Lee’s initial exposure to the art of bass came from bands such as The Rolling Stones.
Lee cherished these early influences on his bass style, but as the blues wave began dominating the scene, British musicians inspired by American blues crafted songs with a more robust, rock-infused edge. Cream was at the forefront of this movement, laying the groundwork for future rock titans, including Led Zeppelin. Led by Jimmy Page, formerly of The Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin infused traditional blues with unconventional elements, producing iconic and dark tunes like ‘Good Times Bad Times’ and ‘Dazed and Confused’.
Their studio records were explosive, but Led Zeppelin’s live performances were where their true force was unleashed. Restrained in the studio, the band transformed into a powerhouse on stage, thrilling audiences with a blend of old blues classics and original tracks.
Lee’s encounter with Led Zeppelin’s music was profound. In his biography, he recalls the awe he and his bandmates felt when they first listened to tracks like ‘Good Times Bad Times’, mesmerized by their intensity, the raw energy of ‘Communication Breakdown’, and the phenomenal drum sounds.
As Rush began crafting their own sound with original drummer John Rutsey, the influence of Led Zeppelin was unmistakable in their early work. Their debut album, though a precursor to their more complex future works like Hemispheres and Fly By Night, bore the unmistakable stamp of Zeppelin’s influence, evident in tracks like ‘Need Some Love’ and Alex Lifeson’s fierce guitar work in ‘Working Man’.
This was merely the dawn of Rush’s journey to becoming a formidable force in music, a journey marked by continuous evolution and a willingness to push boundaries, a trait inspired, in part, by the likes of Led Zeppelin.