The Spirit of Rush fanzine archive now online
Before the Internet, there were virtually no community-based publications or forums for Rush fans. But in 1987, Mick Burnett set out to change that, and started publishing his own Rush fanzine, The Spirit of Rush. Each quarter, he and his small team would publish an issue jam-packed with interviews, album information, fan art, crossword puzzles, and a lot more.
Thanks to John Patuto at Cygnus-X1.net, you can now read the first 10 issues of The Spirit of Rush online He'll be continuing to post more issues every week in chronological order until all 63 are online.
Remembering The Spirit of Rush creator Michael "Mick" Burnett
The first time I saw The Spirit of Rush was in March 1990, when I bought a copy from Mick himself at the Seattle Presto show. I'd been introduced to Mick by another fan, Monica Z, whom I'd also met for the first time at that Presto show (and would become one of my best friends).
When I got home from the show, I read the entire Spirit issue cover-to-cover (#10, Winter 1989-90). In the first pages was a letter to Mick from Neil Peart (dated December 7, 1989). At that point in my life, Neil held a kind of mythic status, so it was a revelation to read an actual letter from him to another fan.
Thanks to my friendship with Monica, I started to connect with a small circle of Rush fans that I hadn't even known existed. Monica would get news from Mick and other fans, and then she'd pass it along to me, usually during lunchtime phone calls. After years of only getting stories from a few magazines (Circus and Hit Parader), and sometimes MTV, I was inundated with information. I was a happy fan!
Fast forward to 2002 on the eve of Rush's first show in five years. Monica and I had flown from Seattle -- later to be joined by Keith Greenard from British Columbia. Mick and a group of European fans were also flying across the Atlantic to see Rush's return.
I still remember that many people almost didn't make it to the first show (and some probably didn't). A wicked series of thunderstorms hit the east coast and south the night before the show, throwing all air travel into chaos. Many fans ended up arriving in the middle of the night (like Keith Greenard), and some (like Mick, if I remember correctly) had to rent cars and drive from other states or cities. I remember thinking that nothing was going to stop these Rush fans!
On the day of the show, thunderstorms and heavy rain marched through Hartford. About an hour or two before showtime, I watched as lightning flashed near the venue, where thousands of Rush fans were "tailgating" before the show. Thunder exploded. Rain poured.
And then the sun came out. There were double rainbows. The symbolism of the weather, especially following the darkness of the past five years, wasn't lost on many fans.
In the whirlwind before and after those first two shows, I didn't have much time to chat with Mick. But I could tell from our brief interactions that he was a genuine and caring person, and definitely a force of good for Rush -- at a time when it wasn't cool to be a fan.
Photo: June 29, 2002: Mick (third from right with 2112 shirt) and the European fans, after the Vapor Trails Scranton show
Neil Peart also commented on how Rush appreciated Mick's enthusiasm. In his letter in Issue 10, Neil wrote:
It is gratifying to see that our music has reached someone strongly enough to spur them into thought, and especially -- action. It must be true that the ultimate goal of any artist is to make someone else respond to the work as strongly as you felt about it. And if you can provoke thought, or even action, you have surely done a lot.
Sadly, not long after those shows, Mick passed away suddenly on
August 2002 July 31, 2002. I still remember getting the call from Monica at work. We were both in shock. The Spirit of Rush continued for a few more issues, but after #63 was published, they closed their doors.
But if there's a silver lining here, it's that Mick had planted a seed. He was one of the people who inspired me to share my love of Rush and, in particular, Neil Peart's drumming and writing, with the world. In 2004, I started this website. And I watched many other great Rush fan sites start up, including Cygnus-X1.net.
Photo: June 29, 2002: Before the Vapor Trails show in Scranton, PA. Mick is second from right, wearing the 2112 shirt. Also in photo: Keith Greenard (far right), Monica Z, Bill (B-Man) Banasiewicz (to the left of Monica), and AndyO (red shirt and sunglasses).
I want to thank John Patuto at Cygnus-X1.net for sharing Mick's legacy on his site. Being a webmaster myself, I can tell you that there's a lot of work that goes into a project like this, and John's done a great job!
Fixed typo in Neil's letter to Mick. Updated other sections for flow.
Corrected the date of Mick's death to July 31, 2002, not August 2002.
Added screenshot of Issue #10.