In 1974, the power trio Rush, formed by Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and John Rutsey released their self-titled debut album, which was the start of a really successful career. The course of their sound and songwriting changed in the same year when for health reasons Rutsey had to be replaced by the drummer Neil Peart, who also became the band’s main lyricist.
During their career the band released 19 studio albums and have sold an estimated amount of more than 40 million records worldwide. Over the decades the band’s keyboardist, bassist and vocalist Geddy Lee talked a lot about musicians he admired. He even once mentioned one guitarist who he believes is “totally underrated”.
The guitarist that Geddy Lee said is totally underrated
Rush’s sound was shaped by Hard Rock and Progressive Rock, two music genres that the band members always loved. Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson had the chance to see many incredible bands in the late 60s and early 70s playing in Canada. Those experiences were extremely important to help them find the musical path for their career. One of those groups was Jethro Tull and in an interview with Guitar World in 2014, Lee praised the band. Also saying that the guitarist Martin Barre was “totally underrated”.
He chose the 1972 album “Thick as a Brick” as one of the records that shaped Rush’s sound. “In my view, this is the first truly successful concept album by a British prog-rock band. They even brought a flute into heavy rock music. How dare they! (laughs)”.
“Their music is so brilliantly written and well put together, what with its hard-to-play parts and odd time signatures. Not to mention the great guitar sounds of the totally underrated Martin Barre. I love how, no matter what influences they brought into the music, from classical to folk, they always did it in a rock context,” Geddy Lee said.
Geddy Lee already said that “Thick as a Brick” as his favorite Jethro Tull album.
Jethro Tull on the “Thick as a Brick” tour was one of the best concerts Geddy Lee saw
The Rush frontman was lucky enough to have seen Jethro Tull in the early 70s. At that time they were promoting the 1972 album “Thick as a Brick” in Canada. The musician recalled that in an interview with Sirius XM Classic Vinyl Influences show (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage).
“I have gotten very deep into Prog Rock of the time. I became a big Jethro Tull fan. Still to this day I think is one of the best concerts I ever saw in my life was Jethro Tull. (It was) on the “Thick As a Brick” tour. What an album. When I hear that album every once in a while, on the radio, a snippet of it, it really brings back that show in that period of time when it was so great.”
“All these bands were coming over that did challenging music. (They) really forced you to listen to these songs over and over and over again. (Especially) to try to understand what they were trying to do. To me that was just incredible and challenging stuff. They were one of my favorites back then,” Geddy Lee said.
The guitarist Martin Barre was born in Kings Heath, Birmingham, England in 1946 and started his musical career 20 years later. Besides the guitar he also plays bouzouki, mandolin, flute and saxophone.
He joined Jethro Tull in 1968, one year after the band already existed. But didn’t play on their debut album “This Was” released in the same year. His first Jethro Tull album was “Stand Up” released in 1969 and besides playing the guitar he also played some additional flute in a few tracks.
Curiously, one of the tracks Geddy Lee chose for Amazon Music in 2019 as one of the songs which inspired his bass playing was from “Stand Up”. It was the instrumental track “Bourée”.
Barre remained a member of Tull for 44 years until the band came to an end for the first time in 2012. In 2017 the group returned with only Ian Anderson being an original member. Barre said he wasn’t asked to return to the line-up. Since then he dedicated himself to his solo career, which had already started in the early 90s and already has 9 studio albums.