“The way it all went down, we were kids”: Geddy Lee on confronting Alex Lifeson about his dismissal from Rush
“I felt so vindicated when John called and said, ‘Look, why don’t you come back.’”
Credit: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic
While the band kept a consistent line-up from the mid-1970s through to 2015, when they broke up, they underwent a number of changes during their first few years. Not least in May 1969, when the band consisted of Lee, Lifeson, John Rutsey, and Lindy Young.
“The way it all went down, we were kids,” vocalist and bassist Lee says on NPR’s World Cafe earlier this month. “And so that day, I was informed by our fourth member at the time, who ended up becoming my brother-in-law, eventually, Lindy Young … He told me that the band had broken up.”
The band didn’t break up, however. After Lee was dismissed, Joe Perna took on vocal and bass duties for a couple of months. Meanwhile, Young himself left that June, while guitarist Bob Vopni joined the same month but only lasted in the band for a few weeks.
“I was kind of reeling from that,” Lee says about the band continuing on without him, “But a few months later when John called me and asked me to rejoin the band because their band that they had turned Rush into was a kind of disaster – which I wasn’t unhappy to hear. I felt so vindicated when John called and said, ‘Look, why don’t you come back.’”
And it was an easy decision, with Lee explaining that Lifeson was still his best friend, and he wanted to play with Rush again. But he explains that he “never really put him on the hot seat as to what really occurred.”
That is, until Lee began working on his memoir, My Effin’ Life, which came out last month.
“I asked [Lifeson] to come over to my house because I wanted to interview him for my book,” Lee explains. “And so, we’re having our usual laughs and kidding [with] each other, we have that kind of friendship. So I just put it to him. ‘So Al, when I got kicked out of the band, who really was the motivating factor here? Was it the new manager, Ray? Was it John? And where did you stand on all of this? Did you defend me?’
“He was looking at the ground a little bit”, he continues. “And he was saying, ‘Well, you know me back then, Ged. I was just the guy who sort of went along with things. And John was such a dominant personality,’ which he was.”
“I just think that Al just went with the flow. And he didn’t really have an excuse or a strong reason.”
You can listen to the interview here: