Geddy Lee Shares The One Band That He Thinks Is Too Hard To Copy
via Fender / Youtube
In 1969, Geddy Lee was just a 16-year-old teenager facing the challenges of a turbulent home life, having lost his father at a young age. This loss left him with a strong belief in the brevity of life and the need to seize every opportunity. Despite his mother’s disapproval, he dropped out of school with a determined ambition to become a musician.
Rather than being discouraged by his mother’s disappointment, it served as a motivation for Lee. He was determined to prove that he could be a professional musician, not just a reckless enthusiast. His basement, shared with his grandma’s kitchen, transformed from an amateur setup into a makeshift rock studio. The volume of their practice sessions even once caused a commotion, rattling glasses off the shelves and shattering them into her chicken soup.
Lee realized that to truly learn about life and pursue his dreams, he needed to break free from the confines of his small hometown. When he saw a poster for The Rock Pile concert in Toronto featuring the relatively unknown Led Zeppelin, he saw it as a chance to follow his dreams. Alongside Alex Lifeson and their original drummer, John Rutsey, Lee patiently waited in line for hours to secure tickets.
How Led Zeppelin Inspired a Young Geddy Lee
The concert’s main attraction was Led Zeppelin, a band not widely recognized at the time but led by the renowned Jimmy Page. After hours of waiting in the scorching August sun, Geddy Lee and his fellow members of Rush managed to secure second-row seats. The concert was so electrifying that it literally brought the house down, with plaster falling from the ceiling by the end of the night.
Lee became an instant fan of Led Zeppelin. As Alex Turner of Arctic Monkeys once said, there’s always that one band that hits you just right during your teenage years and changes your perspective on everything. For Lee, that band was Led Zeppelin, and it fueled his ambition to become a serious musician.
When Led Zeppelin’s first album was released, Lee and his friends eagerly waited for the local record store to open, snatched a copy, and rushed to Lee’s house. Huddled on his bed, they listened to the album in anticipation and were particularly enthralled by “Communication Breakdown.”
This newfound inspiration wasn’t without its challenges. Rush found themselves deeply influenced by Led Zeppelin but struggled to replicate their music as young teenagers. They toiled away in their basement practice room but found Led Zeppelin’s songs “too difficult” to master, even as they began performing in bars.
Despite their limitations, attempting to imitate Led Zeppelin played a crucial role in shaping Rush’s style, which incorporated a wide array of influences into a single song. In Lee’s own words:
“They used influences and they took chances that other heavy metal bands just would not conceive of, maybe sparked by Robert Plant’s lyrics. He had that Tolkienesque majesty about his lyrics, and people don’t like that about his writing, but I do.”