GEDDY LEE On NEIL PEART: 'The Last Time I Saw Him, He Told Me How Proud He Was Of The Music We Have Done Together'
November 14, 2023
Geddy Lee kicked off his "My Effin' Life In Conversation" tour last night (Monday, November 13) at The Beacon Theatre in New York. The trek sees the RUSH singer/bassist bring to life his memoir "My Effin' Life", due for release on November 14 on HarperCollins. Produced by Live Nation, the 14-city tour will make additional stops across North America in Boston, San Francisco, Chicago and more before wrapping up in Toronto at Massey Hall on December 7.
Lee's Beacon Theatre appearance was a once-in-a-life-time event. After the curtain rose, Lee gave his fans a peek into the very fabric of his life: from a deep reflection of his family and childhood to a dive into the history of RUSH; from the determined pursuit of music to the personal memories with his lifelong friends and bandmates, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart. Joined on stage by special guest interviewer, actor Paul Rudd, Lee read key passages from "My Effin' Life"; he then shared thoughts and stories taken from his experience. Furthermore, fans then had the chance to participate in a special question-and-answer session, with Geddy answering their questions directly.
During the Q&A portion of the evening, Lee reflected on the last time he saw Peart, who died in January 2020 after a three-year battle with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. Lee said: "[During the final months of his life, Neil] would listen to a different RUSH album and he would be analyzing it and listening to something he hadn't heard sometimes since we'd made it. And by the time that he sadly passed, he had listened to pretty much all the work we had done as a band. And the last time I saw him... [choking up] he wanted to tell me how proud he was of the music we have done together… Some of this stuff is hard to talk about. And it just blew me away that, in that moment, we were sitting on his balcony at his house. And whenever we left him towards the end, we never knew if we'd see him again or not. And so we were sitting on his balcony and he was having a smoke, because he loved to have a smoke, like clockwork. And we were talking about what a great moment it was that he was here in this place and we had just seen some parakeets flying into the trees and we both were bird nerds so we could talk about that. But he went on to talk about these songs and what they meant to him and he thought it was very important for me to know that, that our life as a rhythm section together was important to him. So I thought that was beautiful."
RUSH waited three days to announce Peart's passing, setting off shockwaves and an outpouring of grief from fans and musicians all over the world.
Last year, Geddy revealed that Neil wanted to keep his cancer diagnosis a secret prior to his death.
"[Peart] didn't want anyone to know [about his illness]," Lee said on Canadian talk show "House Of Strombo". "He just didn't. He wanted to keep it in the house. And we did. And that was hard. I can't tell you it was easy, 'cause it was not easy. And it was ongoing. His diagnosis was… he was given 18 months at the most, and it went on three and a half years. And so that was a constant flow of us going to see him, giving him support."
Lee went on to say that he and Lifeson had to be "dishonest" to fans in order to protect Peart's privacy.
"What his family had to live through was really difficult, so it was a lot of back-and-forth," he said. "And when you're in that state, it's very hard to function normally, because you can't talk to anybody about it, 'cause no one's supposed to know. And so people hear rumblings and they bring things up to you, and you deflect it. And so that feels, on one hand, it feels dishonest, but on the other hand you're being loyal to your friend. So fuck the dishonesty part. That wins."
He continued: "I would say that was the most difficult time for us to move forward, during that whole thing, because we were in this bubble of grief sort of walking towards an inevitable and terrible conclusion."
Back in 2009, Rudd was one of two actors who portrayed RUSH megafans in the comedy "I Love You, Man", which featured brief appearances from Peart, Lee and Lifeson.
As one of the most successful Canadian music group in history, RUSH has performed before millions of fans around the world. Ranked by Rolling Stone in the top ten bassists of all time, Lee has long been acclaimed for his wizard-like musical talent and mesmerizing performances.
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