Alex Lifeson reveals his guitar insecurities: “I always felt like I could be better than I was”
The legendary Rush guitarist shares a relatable anecdote about his playing abilities in a new podcast with Chris Shiflett.
Photo by Scott Dudelson/Getty Images
Rush’s Alex Lifeson might be the benchmark for many prog-inclined guitar fans, but Lerxst himself has revealed a relatable level of guitar-playing modesty for someone whose riffs and solos reverberated around stadiums around the world until their retirement in 2015.
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Lifeson was appearing on the new Shred With Shifty podcast, hosted by Foo Fighters guitarist Chris Shiflett, wherein the Rush icon taught him the solo to Rush’s classic Limelight. In addition the pair chatted about his various influences, which include Jeff Beck, Andy Summers, and of course Eric Clapton.
Lifeson explained that Cream‘s Spoonful was actually the first solo he ever learned, but admitted that despite being one of the most celebrated and beloved guitar icons of the last 40 years, he was never fully satisfied with his guitar skills.
“I’ve always been a little bit insecure about my playing,” he told Shiflett. “I always felt like I could be better than I was”.
He went on to explain that, while every member of Rush had plenty of talent, the nature of their music meant that it was “hard to get back” if one of them made an error and got lost during a live show, which led to more than a few “trainwrecks” at Rush gigs over the years.
In addition to teaching him the solo, Lifeson and Shiflett discussed the writing and recording of Limelight, with the latter claiming that it does “exactly what a great solo should do. It’s a scene change, it’s kind of emotional, it builds, and yes, it shreds”.
Lifeson described using a modded Stratocaster when recording the track, which he says took a few takes.
The tragic death of Neil Peart in 2020 put paid to any talk that Rush might reunite on stage or in the studio, but in the years since Lifeson has been keeping himself busy, not least with his supergroup, Envy of None, who released their self-titled debut album last year, and the EP That Was Then, This Is Now last month.