The album that Geddy Lee said is the best of all time
Born in 1953, Geddy Lee was a teenager right when the so called British Invasion happened transforming Rock and Roll music into something that would dictate the course of that genre for the following decades. In Canada he had the chance to see some of his favorite bands when they toured North America and that experience was crucial to motivate him to create a band and compose.
Over the decades he talked about many of his favorite bands and influences, even revealing which is the best album of all time in his opinion. Rock and Roll Garage selected what he said about that record and his connection with the group.
The album that Geddy Lee said is the best of all time
Formed in 1968, Rush was able to release their debut album only six years later in 1974, with Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and the drummer John Rutsey. That first record showed how they were heavily influenced by the British Rock and Progressive Rock bands from the 60s and early 70s. After the drummer Neil Peart joined them, the group started to find their own path. The lyrics and the music became more complex.
But they were all inspired by almost the same bands and Geddy Lee is a huge fan of The Who. He even said that Pete Townshend is the greatest Rock songwriter that ever existed. What naturally made him choose “Who’s Next” (1971) in an interview with Classic Rock in 2020 as the greatest album of all time. “That album embodies all the best things about rock’n’roll. Great songwriting, great playing. Almost every tune is a classic,” Geddy Lee said.
By the time that record was released Geddy was only 18 and already was the frontman and bassist of Rush for three years. The album was a huge influence to him and his bandmates. They even used to play many Who songs during rehearsal. In the same conversation with Classic Rock he chose “Won’t Get Fooled Again” as “The Anthem” for the soundtrack of his life. “Maybe the greatest power chords ever recorded. Who invented the power chord? Probably Pete,” Geddy Lee said.
Besides that song, “Who’s Next” also had many other classic tracks like “Baba O’Riley”, “Bargain”, “The Song Is Over”, “Going Mobile” and “Behind Blue Eyes”. Still is one of the most praised albums of the British group that was crucial to make them one of the best-selling bands of all time. They have sold an estimated amount of more than 100 million records worldwide.
That album was a huge influence to Geddy Lee and he said it never left his turntable for years
Back in 2012, in a conversation with The Quietus he had already praised “Who’s Next”, saying it was one of his favorite records of all time. The Canadian musician said that it was an important influence when he was still finding his way as an artist. Also stated that the album never left his turntable for years.
“Many of these records happened to be during the period when I was just beginning to find my way. Not just as a musician but beginning to discover what music was all about. Pete Townsend, for me, is arguably the ultimate rock musician. He can expand on a very simple idea and take it somewhere else. Just by the power of his playing and it loses none of the initial excitement.”
“‘Who’s Next’ was one of those albums that never left my turntable for years. For me it is the album that shows four great musicians touching their creative peak. It transcends any notion of genre. It just is what it is, which is the best thing you can say about and band, any album,” Geddy Lee said.
Geddy Lee saw The Who playing live when he was teenager but only had the chance to meet Pete Townshend many decades later
“I was in Ottawa, Canada, the capital of Canada. We were receiving what’s called the Governor General’s Performing Arts award. It was a wonderful event. One of the surprise guests that night was Pete Townshend. (He) had come in to perform with Des McAnuff, who also won an Arts Award that evening.”
“After the gig we were invited to go down Pete’s dressing room and meet him. I’ve never met him. Pete Townshend is one of my real, real heroes. I can honestly say I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you if he had not written those great songs for The Who.”
“They just inspired me to want to be the best writer I could be. So meeting him, I was a bit awestruck and he was great, easy to talk to. But in the back of my mind I was going ‘Holy crap. I’m meeting Pete Townshend’,” Geddy Lee said.
John Entwistle was also his bass hero
Even though the guitarist and sometimes singer Pete Townshend is The Who’s main songwriter, just like in every classic and influential band all the members were important elements for their success.
Roger Daltrey with incredible vocals, phrasing and stage presence; Keith Moon with his surreal drum skills. Also obviously, John Entwistle that was called “thunder fingers” for a good reason.
So, being a huge The Who fan, Geddy Lee recognizes the importance of the late bassist John Entwistle. In an interview with Rolling Stone in 2020 he even said that the British bass player was the greatest one of all time. Lee placed him in front of names like John Paul Jones, Jack Bruce, Paul McCartney and Chris Squire.
“He was one of the first gods to me. Gods of rock. [Laughs] Ever since I first heard ‘My Generation.’ It’s like, “Who is that?” That was a name you needed to know. I still rank him as the greatest rock bassist of all time, in one sense. First of all, he was ferocious. He had a sound that dared to encroach upon the domain of the guitar player. So he had a very loud, very aggressive tone.”
“(…) I mean, he had incredible dexterity. Just moved across the strings in such a fluid manner with such ease. Yet, (he) sounded so tremendously ferocious at the same time,” Geddy Lee said.