In a recent interview with Toronto Life, Geddy Lee talked about Rush’s decision to forgo joining Led Zeppelin.
Initially, Rush was under pressure to become more commercial in their early days, but the bassist said that they weren’t interested in that. The three members of the group, Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart, were immune to extraneous influences because of their close relationship and shared creative vision. In response to a follow-up inquiry regarding their thoughts on being more palatable to fans of mainstream radio, Geddy said:
“That’s what our label and management wanted us to do. They kept saying that our destiny was to be like Led Zeppelin or Bad Company, but we had other ideas. We refused to shy away from the concept album. Instead, we put out a better one about things happening in space. That album was ‘2112.’”
Lee On His Vocal Style
Earlier in the interview, the interviewer brought up how Lee’s singing voice is frequently made fun of, with comparisons to a “hamster on amphetamines” and comments that it sounds like someone screaming in agony. The rock musician, however, finds these descriptors intriguing, as he clarified, citing a few hard rock vocalists as his sources of inspiration:
“Ha! I was influenced by guys like Steve Marriott and Robert Plant — hard-rock screechers. Over the years, I’ve spent time expanding my range to be more melodious. But the real fans like it when I go all the way up there.”
Rush’s Acknowledgment Of Led Zeppelin’s Influence
Rush has never disputed the band’s impact on them, even if they declined to follow in Led Zeppelin’s footsteps. The bassist discussed the significant influence of Led Zeppelin’s debut album on the trio in his most recent biography, “My Effin’ Life,” explaining:
“As soon as their first album was released, we ran to our local Sam the Record Man, only to find that word was spreading fast and it was already out of stock. When the re-order finally came in, we grabbed one, headed home, and laid it on my turntable. I can still remember the three of us sitting there on the bed in utter awe, listening to the heaviosity of ‘Good Times Bad Times,’ the fire of ‘Communication Breakdown,’ and oh, that drum sound!”
Following his praise for Plant’s broad vocal range, Jimmy Page’s guitar prowess, and John Paul Jones’s bass lines, Geddy talked about:
“They were a huge, huge influence on us. The phrase’ heavy metal’ didn’t suit Zeppelin. It didn’t suit them because they were so much more than a heavy metal band. They had a sound that constantly surprised. They used influences, and they took chances that other heavy metal bands just would not conceive of.”
In the past, Lee said that his fondest concert memory is of Led Zeppelin’s Toronto performance, which he described as a fantastic experience. He remembered how thrilled he and his buddies were to be experiencing every aspect of the event, and how they had spent the whole night getting tickets for this show.