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“CANADIAN ROCK BAND WINS U.S. FOLLOWING”
BY GRAHAM HICKS
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
WINNIPEG, MANITOBA, CANADA
NOVEMBER 9, 1976
Neil Peart, drummer for the Toronto rock band Rush, sat in a corner of a cavernous dressing room in Brandon’s Keystone Centre, usually reserved for visiting Western Canada Hockey League teams. The spidery figure was absorbed in Canadian nationalist Richard Rohmer’s book “Exxoneration”, a fictional account of an attempted takeover of Canada by the United States.
This was odd because the heavy rock trio had deliberately forsaken Canada in the band’s reach for stardom. Like such other Canadian groups as Bachman-Turner Overdrive, they looked southward for success.
During the last two years, the band had played almost every major American city, touring seven months of each year.
A readers’ poll in Circus, a rock music publication aimed at the teen-age market, has named Rush the second-best new band in North America.
Their latest album, “2112”, was released in the U.S. earlier this year and has sold 300,000 copies. Canadian groups are considered super-successful if they sell 100,000 copies of an album.
The band finally made it to Canada last summer for a coast-to-coast tour. “I guess we’re a Canadian band that never really has played Canada before,” said lead singer and bassist Geddy Lee. “We played in most of the United States before we went east of Ottawa or west of Sudbury.” Their October tour was to “find out what the band means in Canada.” Lee said. The group said they enjoyed playing in Toronto, southern Ontario, Sudbury and Winnipeg but the Maritimes were a disaster. The audiences were there but Lee said there was a “failure to communicate.” “We’ll play Halifax and Moncton again, perhaps. But not Sydney, St. John’s or Charlottetown. The audiences are primitive. The halls in Canada are the pits. They’re terrible for sound, just barns or hockey rinks.”
In Toronto Rush played three sellout shows at Massey Hall—the first Canadian rock band to have attracted such audiences. Lee said Canadian audiences are more subdued than their American counterparts. “The teens are geared to a different way of life up here. They’re not as attuned to styles and fashions as you find in the states”.
Rush is not a new band. They worked pubs and high school dances in southern Ontario for five years. Lee and guitarist Alex Lifeson are original members. Peart joined in 1974.
Lee said they were turned down by all Canadian record companies and were always told Rush had no commercial potential. After sending a copy of their first album to a Cleveland radio station Rush signed with Mercury in July, 1974. “Since then it’s been tour, tour, tour,” Lee said. “We’ve played hundreds of American towns, supporting whoever we could. We figured Canada would come naturally.” A new album, a live double set entitled “All the Worlds a Stage” has been released. Sales figures for the album and a future album to be recorded in England may determine whether Rush breaks through the ranks of superstardom.
1975 Fly by Night
1975 Caress of Steel
1976 All the World’s a Stage
1977 A Farewell to Kings
1980 Permanent Waves
1981 Moving Pictures
1981 Exit, Stage Left
1984 Grace Under Pressure
1985 Power Windows
1987 Hold your Fire
1989 Show of Hands (Live)
1991 Roll the Bones
1996 Test for Echo
1998 Different Stages (Live)
2002 Vapor Trails
2003 Rush in Rio (Live)
2004 Feedback (Live Covers)
2005 R30 30th Anniversary World Tour (Live)
2006 Grace Under Pressure Tour (Live)
2007 Snakes & Arrows
2008 Snakes & Arrows Live
2012 Clockwork Angels