Rush's Alex Lifeson

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 fiction–based 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

guitar sound.

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

excerpt).

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

Yesterday."

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

April.

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.