I’ve always known it, and now the world does too: Geddy Lee is an inspiration. How could he not be? As the front man for Canada’s most successful rock band, Rush, Geddy has reached the upper echelons of rock stardom, yet has kept it quintessentially Canadian by not making a big deal about it. He just puts his head down and gets on with the job.
The singer/bassist is the subject of Rock Icons’ “Geddy Lee The Maestro.” The mini-doc features interviews with Lee, band mates Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart, along with The Rheostatics’ Dave Bidini, as they reflect on what continues to drive the rock icon, even in his fourth decade of making music.
Being a Canadian musician myself, there have been few role models to look up to, but Rush have always been there, working away in their own corner of the rock world, quietly amassing an immense fan base, yet eschewing the clichéd trappings of stardom. Having navigated the music industry for over 20 years, I’ve often looked to them for inspiration – WWRD (What Would Rush Do)?
With 40 years of touring arenas around the world, and over 40 million albums sold – third behind the Beatles and the Rolling Stones – they’ve obviously done something right. But that doesn’t just happen, and a career of successes is often accompanied by a career of set-backs. It’s how you move forward after those set-backs that inspires, and Geddy’s positive attitude is certainly inspirational.
“When you’re a kid, you dream big dreams.” Speaking about his childhood, Lee reflects on how being a Jewish kid in the suburbs of Toronto set him apart from his peers, and helped to fuel the drive that would push him to international stardom.
“I think because I lost my dad at such a young age, I know how quickly life can disappear,” he says. “And like our music, I try to get the most out of my life.”
That includes amassing a huge collection of baseball memorabilia (and yes, that was him behind home plate during the Blue Jays recent post-season games), a cellar of fine wine, and of course a slew of gold and platinum albums.
You don’t need to be a baseball fan or wine connoisseur though to reap the benefits of his words of wisdom, you just need a healthy dose of optimism.
“We live in a fascinating world, and there’s a lot to learn, and I want to learn as much as I can about the things that turn me on.” Words to live by.
Rock Icons’ “Geddy Lee The Maestro.” airs Sunday, Nov. 1 at 10:30 p.m. ET on HBO Canada