What is it with Canucks and rock music documentaries? Last year it was Anvil: The Story Of Anvil, the tale of two lifelong friends who vowed to make it despite all the odds. Although 2010 is only half over, I cannot imagine a better rock-doc coming out this year than Rush: Beyond The Lighted Stage.
With Anvil we met two 50-something friends who had been chasing the rock dream since they were teens. It was a fantastic story, because Lips and Robb came off as such genuinely nice guys. Rush’s history is a little different, as they have been hugely successful for many years now. But as far as getting any respect from mainstream media, they are still fighting.
Rush have never been accorded the type of respect that The Stones, The Who, or even AC/DC get — yet their sales figures are comparable. It is one of the major themes of the DVD, although in their self-effacing way, the trio never really address the subject. Through vintage concert footage, recent interviews, and some amazing home movies, they keep their cards close to the vest. It is up to guests such as Billy Corgan, Vinnie Paul, Les Claypool, and Sebastian Bach to make the case that Rush are a band for the ages.
When pressed to discuss wild tales of on-the-road behavior, Geddy Lee just laughs and says that they were “pretty nerdy.” Gene Simmons takes it further when he talks about Rush opening for KISS in 1974. “There were willing women lined up in the hotel corridors,” he says, “But the Rush guys would be holed up in their rooms, watching TV.”
I never really knew what prompted the change from original drummer John Rutsey to Neil Peart, which is explained. Lee, Lifeson, and Rutsey were basically a bar band who got a deal and recorded the first LP, Rush. But Rutsey was seriously ill with diabetes, and trying to ignore it. Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson are both emphatic when they say the decision was made to let him go because they didn’t think he would survive touring.