Guitarist Alex Lifeson has been with hard-rock band Rush throughout its
30-year history from its struggling days in its native Canada,
through the band's heyday as arena-filling, multiplatinum album makers,
to its present day as veterans of classic rock.
Lifeson was born Alexander Zivojinovich 46 years ago today in Fernie,
British Columbia. He met singer/multi-instrumentalist Geddy Lee (born
Gary Lee Weinrib) in high school in the Toronto suburb of Sarnia, and
the pair teamed with drummer John Rutsey to form Rush in 1969. Heavily
influenced by Cream, Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin, the band began
performing in clubs while the members were still in their teens.
After opening for the New York Dolls in Canada, Rush formed their own
label, Moon Records, on which they issued their 1974 eponymous debut. A
Cleveland DJ brought the band's music to the attention of Mercury Records,
which signed Rush and reissued the LP. At that point, Rutsey left and
was replaced by drummer/primary songwriter Neil Peart.
Fly by Night (1975) showcased Rush's progressive rock and penchant
for science fictionbased lyrics. The concept album 2112 (1976)
began the band's string of gold and platinum LPs.
Rush's mainstream breakthrough was 1980's Permanent Waves, which
featured the hit "The Spirit of Radio." The LP, featuring more traditional
song structures than Rush's earlier, epic-length songs, went to #4 in
the U.S. Moving Pictures (1981), which includes the radio favorites
"Tom Sawyer" and "Limelight," remains the band's biggest seller at more
than 4 million copies.
Signals (1982) also went platinum and featured even shorter cuts,
including "New World Man" (the band's first hit single). It also set the
stage for the rest of Rush's career in that it featured lower-toned vocals
from the usually high-pitched Lee, more synthesizers and a shimmering
Beginning in the late '80s, Rush released the top-five albums Roll
the Bones (1991) and Counterparts (1993). Test for Echo
(1996) is Rush's most recent album of new material. Last year's Different
Stages was a triple-disc live set from shows in 1997 and 1978. It
featured such songs as "Driven" (RealAudio
excerpt) and "Dog Years" (RealAudio
In 1996 Lifeson issued an eponymous album by his side project, Victor.
Recorded in his home studio near Toronto, it featured heavy rock on such
tracks as the first single, "Don't Care." Primus' Les Claypool played
bass on some cuts. Victor contributed "You'd Give Anything in the World
to Put It Right?" to the soundtrack of the 1998 film "Twice Upon a
Lifeson and Lee also sang "O Canada" on the soundtrack to the recent
movie "South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut."
Invisible Symphony: A Classical Tribute to Rush was issued in
Other birthdays: Daryl Dragon (Captain and Tennille), 57; Kevin Kavanaugh
(Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes), 48; Willy DeVille (Mink DeVille),
46; Glen Matlock (Sex Pistols), 43; Mike Johnson (Dinosaur Jr), 34; and
Tony Kanal (No Doubt), 29.