Happy Birthday today to one of rock and roll’s greatest bass players of all time, whose signature sound and sonic hyperbole on his instrument have been a key ingredient to the success and style of the Canadian power trio Rush for over 40 years now, one Geddy Lee.
Lee, born Gary Lee Weinrib in 1953, was, along with guitarist Alex Lifeson, one of the founding members of Rush. He got his first name due to his mother’s pronunciation of the name Gary in her thick accent, which came out aurally as “Geddy.” Employing drummer Neil Peart in 1974 after their original drummer John Rutsey had left the band, that musical triumvirate has remained intact ever since, releasing over 20 records (studio and live recordings), of some of the most adventurous, progressively hyper arranged and tonally muscular music ever recorded. Each member tackles its respective instrument with stratosphere aplomb and the result makes Rush one of the all-time signature rock and roll bands.
Lee’s bass playing and lead vocals (sung in a much higher register early on in the band’s career, and has now settled to a mid-range tone) are instantly recognizable. His playing, especially on tracks like the instrumentals “YYZ,” “La Villa Strangiato,” “Leave That Thing Alone,” and on Lee-sung tracks like “Freewill,” “2112,” “Cygnus X-1,” “Digital Man,” and so many others, (hard core Rush fans would claim EVERY song in the bands extensive catalog actually) have become an almost instant sourcebook for budding bass players, musicphiles, and just regular lovers of the instrument. The work he does coupled with Neil Peart, who many rock fans consider one of the greatest if not the greatest drummer of all time, is revered as one of progressive rock and roll’s top shelf rhythm sections, both men playing at a level which stuns the listener, amazed at its breathtaking ferocity and airtight chemistry.
In addition to his full-time career as a musician, Lee is also a huge baseball zealot of sorts, he has an extensive collection of baseball memorabilia, even donating over 200 signed baseballs to the Negro League Hall of Fame in Kansas City, Missouri in 2008. Another fact most people don’t know about him is he is an avid wine collector, sporting over 5,000 bottles in his personal collection, of brands spanning and accumulated from around the globe.
So birthday wishes and greetings to the great Geddy Lee today, who is still going strong, stronger than ever actually and shows no signs of letting up, in a career that still delights and thrills millions of folks around the world and continues to influence bass players known, well known and unknown.