Happy 65th Birthday to Geddy Lee of Rush. Definitely my favourite bassist and an interesting guy with an intriguing background. Through all of his success he managed to stay down to earth…just really Canadian. He refers to himself as a hoser. More on that later.
Geddy Lee was born Gary Lee Weinrib. His parents were Jewish Holocaust survivors from Poland who spent time in Dachau, Bergen-Bergen and Auschwitz. They met in the concentration camps and while there Geddy Lee’s father, Morris, then a teenager, somehow managed to bribe camp guards to bring the object of his affection, Mary Rubenstein shoes. When the war ended the two were separated but the smitten Morris Weinrib set out to find Mary. He ultimately found her at a displaced persons camp. They were married as late teenagers and emigrated to Canada. They would settle in the Toronto suburb of Willowdale and raise three children. Geddy’s name evolved from Gary as a result of his mother’s accented pronunciation. His friends picked up on the name and he became known as Geddy to all; eventually he made Geddy Lee his legal name. Sadly his father died when Geddy was just 12 years old from what were thought to be complications resulting from his wartime imprisonment. Geddy has often spoken with reverence in relation to his parents impact on his life and his Jewish heritage. Aspects of his parents story came through in Neil Peart’s lyrics for ‘Red Sector A’ from their 1984 ‘Grace Under Pressure’ album.
“I hear the sound of gunfire at the prison gate
Are the liberators here?
Do I hope or do I fear?
For my father and my brother it’s too late
But I must help my mother stand up straight.”
In addition to being an incredibly influential bass player Geddy Lee is a philanthropic individual who is active in many causes. In addition to this he is an avid wine collector and a huge baseball fan. He is often seen at Toronto Blue Jays games in his seats right behind home plate. Lee is a collector of baseball memorabilia. His collection is astounding and dates back to the late 1800s.
I could go on forever but I will stop now; but first here is the song that displays his unique sense of humour and served to define his identity as a Canadian…HOSER.
Take off eh!
Today’s cover version is by Ninja Sex Party (yes, you read that right). Sometimes you find covers in the strangest places. This serves as proof that the guys from Rush are universally admired for their commitment to music excellence. Ninja Sex Party is actually an American musical comedy duo but there is nothing funny about this performance. It is really well done.
Personal story time…and this is a special one for me. Let’s call it ‘School of Rock’ Lesson 1: Back in 2004 Rush embarked on what they called their R-30 Tour. This title represented 30 years of the trio of Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and (the new guy) Neil Peart who joined the band in 1974 for their second album ‘Fly By Night’ and never looked back. Obviously that tour would bring them to Toronto; their ‘hometown’ and having not seen them in 18 years I was determined to see them again. The band had managed to navigate themselves through a period of personal turmoil for Neil Peart and were in an extremely powerful creative phase that saw them playing at a level that most bands could only dream of achieving. Best of all, I was going to take my two oldest sons. Sebastian was 10 and Jeremy was 7. I had been extolling the virtues of Rush to the boys pretty much since they could talk so there was no way I could or would go with out them. For old times sake I made a couple of phone calls and was able to include my brother in law Tom and his son Spencer (my nephew) and also my old friend Nick. The first time I saw Rush was back in 1982 at Maple Leaf Gardens and Nick and Tom were part of our entourage. Tom is a great guy. One of those people that everyone gravitates to. Nothing seems to ever phase the guy. He sees the humour in everything. He and his wife Tina have about 5000 friends and a good time follows them wherever they go. Tom has the ability to turn a piece of wood into a castle. His back yard is a personal oasis that is the envy of many. He also has an incredible ability to mold any group of kids he assembles on the ice into a hockey team of winners. I am luck to call him ‘family’. Spencer at the time was just about to turn nine. He is now an extremely positive, popular and outgoing 23 year old who is constantly seeking new experiences and schooling to fulfill his dreams. No doubt this energetic approach will lead to success. Nick is a friend of mine from Acton. One of my oldest friends. I have known him since his family moved to Canada from England when he was seven. His parents were beautiful people who although we always called them Mr and Mrs they were like friends. His mother Maggie has always been held in high esteem. She saw The Beatles at the Cavern Club when she was a young woman in England. How cool is that? Nick and I spent a lot of time hanging out at his place when we were kids and a lot of that time was spent listening to music. His parents would join us on occasion and tell us stories about bands they saw growing up. Priceless. I haven’t seen Nick since his father Bernie’s memorial service. I need to give him a call.
Back to the concert…we bought lawn seats for the Molson Amphitheatre and headed to the late August show. It would be the first concert each of Sebastian, Jeremy and Spencer would attend. Sebastian had just begun drumming lessons and absolutely adored Neil Peart. At this point he did not have a drum set yet but he had fashioned a set out of pillows and various other pieces of furniture and toys from around the house. The final piece was a homemade ‘bass pedal’ made out of a bamboo stick with a huge ball of tape at the end. He would hold the piece with his toes to create the kick for the pedal. We marvelled at his ingenuity and knew that someday soon we would relent to buying him a set but his homemade set sounded alright. By his 11th birthday Heather and I realized how serious he was and bought him his own set that he still owns and plays to this day (among other instruments). He was wide eyed and enthused from the first note of the opening medley. I am not sure how into it all Jeremy and Spencer were but we engaged them as often as possible to keep them interested. Jeremy holds the dubious distinction of falling asleep during ‘La Villa Strangiato’. This is kind of the equivalent of going to see Star Wars and falling asleep just before Luke Skywalker blows up the Death Star. I have never let him forget this but he did wake up to catch the encore. I distinctly remember walking out of the theatre with Jeremy on my shoulders as the closing notes and cymbal crashes of Limelight were raining down. A proud moment for me and a lasting memory for the boys. They definitely do remember. It was the first of many concerts I have enjoyed with ‘my boys’. Nathaniel would join us for several shows when he was old enough. I can’t express how happy it makes me feel to share and pass my love of music onto them. I can also say they have some ability to play as well.
I wrote this at 4 o’clock in he morning. I couldn’t sleep. The words were just kicking around inside my head. Sometimes when you write the words just fall out on the page. Like a word scramble you just need to move them around until they make sense. These are just a handful of people who have shared the stage with me in my life. Just a few of the ‘performers and portrayers’ who form an audience upon our ‘modestly’ gilded cage.
Here are the lyrics for ‘Limelight’. It is an obvious ode to Shakespeare by Neil Peart. Neil is a private man and the lyrics reflect his strong desire to keep his adoring audience at a distance.
Living on a lighted stage
Approaches the unreal
For those who think and feel
In touch with some reality
Beyond the gilded cage
Cast in this unlikely role
Ill-equipped to act
With insufficient tact
One must put up barriers
To keep oneself intact
Living in the limelight
The universal dream
For those who wish to seem
Those who wish to be
Must put aside the alienation
Get on with the fascination
The real relation
The underlying theme
Living in a fish eye lens
Caught in the camera eye
I have no heart to lie
I can’t pretend a stranger
Is a long-awaited friend
All the world’s indeed a stage
And we are merely players
Performers and portrayers
Each another’s audience
Outside the gilded cage
To close…Check out this brief cover by Toronto native Lawrence Gowan, performing with Styx.
9 thoughts on “Limelight – #TedTocksCovers A story about my School of Rock. Taking my boys to their first concert. #MusicisLife #Rush #NinjaSexParty #Styx #LawrenceGowan”
Reblogged this on Ted Tocks Covers and commented:
Memories of Rush are flooding back today. This is special. It began as a tribute to Geddy Lee, but evolved into a personal reflection of the first show I saw with my sons.