Shit news to wake up to. I loved Rush. They were my band growing up.
When I was 12 someone at school lent me Hemispheres, it would have been in 1978. I'd never heard anything like it before, it was batshit mental and I just could not figure out what it was all about, but that didn't really matter because the music was out of this world. I listened to it endlessly (I'd taped it, as you did back then). Anyway I was hooked after that.
Being 12, I didn't really have any money, I mean I had a paper job, but that paid £2.20 a week and albums were about a fiver then I think. So I joined the local record library and managed to work my way backwards through their other records, A Farewell to Kings, 2112, Caress of Steel, Fly by Night and Rush, along with the live album All the World's a Stage. Loved them all, bar their 1st one which was a pretty standard 1970's rock album (Working Man was great though). Which Neil Peart didn't feature on. It was markedly different and his unique influence was plain to hear on everything that came after it. Music that filled full sides of some records, and themes that I did not understand in any way at all. But the music appealled to me so much. Stuff like Xanadu, 2112 Overture, By Tor and the Snow dog, La Villa Strangiato etc were magnificent things that I'd never imagined could exist, I mean me and my group of friends at school had been listening to the likes of Scorpions, Rainbow, Deep Purple, Van Halen etc. Rush were different though, and very uncool to like.
But then they brought out Permanent Waves in 1980 and things seemed to change after that. It was a step in a new direction really, featuring a lot of synthesisers. It turned a lot of previous fans off them but also brought in a lot of new listeners. The band even ended up on the front pages of Sounds and Record Mirror, and with the Spirit of Radio, they even got on Top of the Pops FFS (not in person mind, I think they might even of had Pans People dancing to it instead). Permanent Waves was fantastic and that tour was the first time I managed to see them play live, at Newcastle City Hall, my first ever gig. I dread to think what my parents paid for that ticket, because they were like rocking horse shit, I think they sold out on the day they went on sale, but it was the best present I ever got and I could not wait to see them. Of course they were fantastic, and Neil Pearts drum solo was the absolute highlight of the night for a 14 year old me.
Then it was Moving Pictures which was bigger again, and featured brilliant songs like Limelight, the Camera Eye, Red Barchetta and Tom Sawyer, probably their most well known song. I went to see them in Edinburgh on that tour as that was the closest they came to Newcastle. My dad even drove us (me and girlfriend (& future wife briefly)) up there and waited around for a few hours to take us home again afterwards). Again they were fantastic. As was my dad.
I loved the run of albums they released after that, Signals (my favourite), Power Windows, Grace Under Pressure (another favourite), Hold Your Fire and Presto, all great albums each one with at least 1 or 2 absolutely stonking songs on them.
I kind of fell away from them after that though as they kind of dropped the electronic element and went back to more guitar led rock music, although much more than just rock, from Roll the Bones onwards.
I last saw them on their 30th anniversary R30 tour in 2004, at the NEC in Birmingham. I drove that time. Great show again, although my abiding memory of it is throwing up outside the NEC after drinking far to much warm, expensive beer during the show (we were staying overnight I should add, not driving back straight after).
I think it was around that time, earlyish 2000's that they became really popular, as kids who grew up listening to them started to be successful in their own bands, and their influence started to become more acknowledged. I didn't really like their music much towards the end of their long band life, but they brought out some excellent DVDs quite recently like Beyond The Lighted Stage (about their beginnings) and Time Stands Still (about their end). Beyond the Lighted Stage is available on Netflix, and is well worth seeing if you haven't already.
Anyway, this has turned out to be a much longer post than I intended, I had just really wanted to say how much of an influence Rush had been through my formative years and how sad I was to hear this morning about Neil Peart, after going through so many tragedies himself a few years ago, before finally finding happiness again.
So I'm going to listen to some Rush today for the first time in quite a while. It's odd seeing them on the news, but I suppose it's just an indicator of how influential they really were, and Neil Peart was to my mind The Boss of that band. I don't think anyone was really expecting any new Rush music to come or any more tours, but to have it confirmed in such a definite way is very sad.
So goodbye Neil Peart, and goodbye Rush. I'll twirl my tache that little bit extra today. Sad times.