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Rush’s Geddy Lee: “I think the toughest conversation we ever had was when Neil Peart made his decision to retire”

“Here he was now saying, ‘I think I’m reaching the end.’”

Guitarist Alex Lifeson, bassist Geddy Lee, and drummer Neil Peart of Rush

Image: Frederick Breedon / Getty Images

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Goodbyes are never easy, and neither are the conversations surrounding them, as Geddy Lee reveals in a new chat about Rush’s final R40 tour.

At the recent stop of his My Effin’ Life book tour at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago, Illinois, Lee speaks about the camaraderie he shares with members Neil Peart and Alex Lifeson, and the way he can “count on one hand the number of serious disagreements we ever had”.

“I think the toughest conversation we ever had was when [Neil] had made, in his mind, a decision to retire,” Lee says [via Blabbermouth].

He adds that the conversation came suddenly, at a time where Lifeson had just undergone “a very serious surgery” and his arthritis was “very bad”.

“This was in 2014. And Neil suddenly, out of the blue, said, ‘We have to have a meeting.’ And we said, ‘Okay. When?’ He said, ‘Well, next week. I’m coming through town,’” Lee recalls. “And we said, ‘Well, yeah, but Lerxst [Alex’s nickname] just had surgery.’ And he was insistent that it be then. And so, that was out of character for him. So I knew something was on his mind.”

“So we met at the restaurant we always used to dine at, and our manager was with us. And he came in, and he basically said that he doesn’t really want to tour anymore. And he said, ‘I know you guys are planning a tour, but I think I need to take care of my new family at home.’”

“Here he was now saying, ‘I think I’m reaching the end.’ And that was a hard conversation,” Lee continues. “And he looked at Alex, and he said, ‘Alex, what do you think?’ And Al was sitting there, having just had surgery the week before, and he’s not very comfortable. He’s sitting upright, and he said, ‘Well, look, Neil, I don’t know how many tours I have left in me because of my issues. But I really would like to do one more.’ And Neil looked at me and went, ‘Fuck.’ He had no answer for that.”

“He said, ‘One thing I said to myself before this meeting was if Alex wanted to do this tour badly enough’ that he would say yes. And he did. And he wasn’t happy.”

“But he went back to his hotel and he told me in an e-mail that he had sent me a little while later, he wrote this e-mail, he said, ‘I think I must have said ‘fuck’ six hundred times that day in my room.’ But he said, ‘Now I have a different outlook. Rather than retirement,’ he said, ‘I’m resigned. I’m resigned to doing a tour, and I’m resigned to making it the best tour we could possibly make.’ And that was it. That’s the last we had to discuss of it.”

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