Happy R40 to Rush!
It was 40 year ago today, on Geddy Lee's birthday, July 29, 1974, that Neil Peart joined Rush. And so began one of the most enduring and successful musical partnerships. With Neil Peart, Rush would produce 19 studio albums (and counting!), and sell over 40 million albums sold worldwide.
Peart describes the day Rush came into his life in his book Traveling Music:
One hot July morning in the summer of 1974, a white Corvette pulled up in front of Dalziel Equipment. Another drummer from the area, John Trojan, climbed out of the passenger seat, and introduced me to the driver, Vic Wilson, one of the managers of a band from Toronto called Rush. All I knew about them was seeing those Bullrush, Mahogany Rush, Rush posters from the previous summer, but apparently they had been playing bluesy hard rock around the Toronto-area bars for a few years, and had recently released an independent Canadian album financed by the management company. The manager said the album had been picked up by an American record company, Mercury, and an American tour was being planned for later that summer. It sounded very exciting (though by that time I had learned to be skeptical of a manager's promises).
Peart got the gig, and Rush played their first show on August 14, 1974, opening for Manfred Man in front of 11,000 people in Pittsburgh. And while we don't have a recording of that first show (at least that I'm aware of), we do have the first Agora performance from August 26. I'm still amazed at how well the band was playing together after only a month. The following photo is from another Agora show on September 25, 1974:
Congratulations to Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart for 40 years of great music, and happy 61st birthday to Geddy Lee!