A Farewell to Kings: Tour Book

A Condensed Rush Primer
By Neil Peart

The musical entity that is Rush is not an easy thing to define. Where many have foundered, there is no reason to assume that I will fare any better, except perhaps that I have access to the actual facts, and some inside information on the motivations. We have always done our utmost to elude any convenient classifications, in spite of those who must affix a label and assign a function to everything in sight, whether they really fit or not.

It may be that the only term loose enough to encompass anything of the concept of Rush is simply “progressive rock,” for it is to this ideal of enjoyment, integrity, and freedom of expression that we have dedicated ourselves. Our music is aimed at the head, at the heart, and at the abdomen. We can only hope that it finds it’s mark in yours.

The Past—Rush came to be in a basement in suburban North Toronto during the first wave of progressive hard rock in the late sixties. This was the era of the Who, Cream, Jeff Beck, Zeppelin, Hendrix, and the first truly free and creative period of popular music. This was to have a profound effect later on. The origin of the name is now uncertain, but it would seem to express a basic ingredient of the band even then; energy.

It was Alex, Geddy, and the original drummer, John Rutsey, sometimes augmented by a temporary fourth on rhythm guitar, or keyboards, but fundamentally always as a trio, appearing in the endless succession of drop-in centres, parties, dances, high schools, hockey arenas, and finally bars, bars, and more bars, which can prove so frustrating to a young band in Canada, usually spelling disaster in the form of a downward spiral towards security and a “real job.”

(A brief aside) During this period yours truly was engaged in exactly the same endless succession with a variety of small time bands around the Niagara Peninsula, eventually leaving to live in England for a year and a half, playing in more bands and doing a bit of unglamorous session work. It was just as difficult there as it was here to get anywhere, so I returned home the proverbial sadder and wiser man, only to find success unlooked-for in some band I’d never heard of from Toronto, but that’s another story.

(Back to the story) In early 1974, the first album, aptly and simply entitled “Rush,” was recorded, financed, and independently released on Moon Records by the band’s long-time manager Ray Daniels and his partner Vic Wilson. This had to be done because no record company in Canada would take them for free, (No Commercial Potential, you see). The sessions were late at night, often after gigs, and the extreme limitations of time and money were excruciating. The material was raw and immature, some of it in the band’s repertoire for several years, and the production was a patch-up job, rescued at the last minute by the saving grace of Terry Brown (a.k.a. Broon), who remains our co-producer, objective Ear, and fourth member in the studio. Still, a dream had been realized; there was an album!

During that summer of 1974, many important things occurred which were to alter the whole concept of Rush before the year was out. A radio station in Cleveland began playing the album, resulting in the importation and sales of a few boxes of albums. There was interest. An American booking agency, ATI, began discussing the possibility of some American dates for the band, thereby triggering the interest of Mercury Records, who signed them to a lucrative long-term contract. There was an international release.

Next Mercury and ATI got together and came up with a promotional tour which would cover much of the United States, and allow the band to play before many thousands of people. There was a Canadian tour. Then suddenly, after a long period of fragile health and musical frustration, John announced that he was going to leave the band, only weeks before the album was to be released, and the tour to commence. There was no drummer.

It is at this point in the story that I cease to speak in the third person, and “they” becomes “we.” I joined the band on Geddy’s twenty-first birthday, June 29, 1974, with a scant two weeks remaining in which to assemble enough material to hit the road. Somehow we did it, and played our first show together in front of 18,000 people opening for Uriah Heep in Pittsburgh. This was the first night of an endless tour, and first of many spent on the concert stages of America and Canada, refining and developing our skills, and learning to live with a permanently packed suitcase, and a very brief, very occasional sojourn home.

During this time we were putting together much of the material that would form our first album together, pooling our creative resources, and exploring each other’s aptitudes and personalities. Somehow I found myself writing many of the lyrics, probably because neither Alex or Geddy were interested in doing it, and it seemed to me like it would be fun. We were getting to know each other better, and the personal chemistry and unity of purpose began to develop, which has sustained and inspired us against all adversity.

In January of 1975, we went into Toronto Sound to record the album Fly by Night. We set many standards and directions for ourselves with this album, venturing into a broader thematic and dynamic range, concentrating on composition, musicianship, and more interesting arrangements. It was very well received, earning us a gold record in Canada, and very respectable sales in the U.S., as well as the Juno award as the most promising new group in Canada. These things helped to reinforce our belief in what we were trying to accomplish, and we became dedicated to achieving success without compromising our music, for we felt it would be worthless on any other terms.

Suddenly people began to take us seriously, or at least to recognize our existence, except for the radio programmers and the press (for if they had heard of us, they kept it a closely guarded secret). We were still touring intensely, as it was the only means of being heard (also we enjoyed it). There are only two ways open to survival for a band in the music business, one is by a quick capitalization on a manufactured or accidental hit single, the other is a slow steady climb accomplished by long hard touring. So, we toured.

In July of that year, we again entered the familiar other-world of Toronto Sound, to record our third album, to be entitled Caress of Steel. We went in serene and confident, and emerged with an album that we were tremendously proud of, as a major step in our development, and featuring a lot of dynamic variety and some true originality. This was also the first album to display the artistic gifts of Hugh Syme, a man who since has been responsible for all of our covers. Unfortunately, many things conspired against us, and the album sold poorly. The ensuing tour was half jokingly referred to as the “Down the Tubes Tour,” and it was a pretty depressing string of small towns and small clubs, and a lot of unwelcome pressure from certain quarters about making our music more accessible and more salable. It was uncertain for a time whether we would fight or fall, but finally we got mad! We came back with a vengeance with 2112, perhaps our most passionate and powerful album yet. We were talking about freedom from tyranny, and we meant it! This was the first real blend of our diverse and schizophrenic influences, and it was also our first really successful album. We felt at the time that we had achieved something that was really our own sound, and hopefully established ourselves as a definite entity. The side long title piece itself became a featured part of our live shows, as much fun for us as for our audiences, and the trend was all upwards from that point on. It was again recorded at Toronto Sound, in the cold winter of 1976. At last we had learned how to get our sound across on record, and how to strike the balance between what we could do in the studio, and what we could do on stage.

All the World’s a Stage, our double live album, was recorded in Toronto’s venerable Massey Hall from three memorable shows on June 11, 12, and 13. It is made up of our live show at the time, basically an anthology of the high points from our first four albums. To quote from the liner notes, “This album, to us, signifies the end of the beginning, a milestone to mark the close of chapter one, in the annals of Rush.”

The Present—If this was to be the close of chapter one, then we are certainly now embarked on the beginning of chapter two. We have had a year and a half between studio albums, a very welcome creative hiatus, and a chance for the three of us to concentrate on our individual instruments, and the mastery of new ones to keep the music growing. Alex moved onto double necked guitar and the bass pedal synthesizer, Geddy also into double necked guitar and bass, and the bass pedal synthesizer, as well as the mini moog, while I have begun to dabble in keyboard percussion, such as tubular bells, glockenspiel, and various little percussion devices here and there.

All of these factors contribute to the pride with which we present our sixth and latest album, A Farewell to Kings. For the first time we traveled outside of Toronto to record, settling ourselves in the pastoral countryside of Wales, at Rockfield Studios, then to Advision Studios in London for the mixing. We found the seclusion and the mellow atmosphere at Rockfield very conducive to work (there’s little else to do!) and we made good use of the varied facilities, including a huge acoustic room, and the unique opportunity to record outdoors. The birds of Rockfield can be heard out on the Elizabethan-jazz flavoured introduction to the title cut. This song is one of our favourites on the album, as it seems to encapsulate everything that we want Rush to represent. The birds can be heard once again on the introduction to the second piece, which is a fantasy exercise entitled “Xanadu.” Anyone who saw the band on the last part of our most recent American tour, or on the British tour, will perhaps remember this one as having been featured in our show during this time. On the album it forms an eleven minute tour-de-force, and is certainly the most complex and multi-textured piece we have ever attempted. It also contains one of Alex’s most emotive and lyrical guitar solo’s, as well as a very dramatic vocal from Geddy.

Side two opens with a simple and straightforward track called “Closer to the Heart.” Lyrically speaking, if “A Farewell to Kings” looks at the problems, then this one looks at the solution. It is based on a verse by a friend of ours from Seattle, and it has much to say to those who hear. “Cinderella Man” is a strong story written by Geddy with some help from Alex, and it concerns some of his reactions and feelings engendered by the film “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town.” This one features a very unusual (for us) middle instrumental section that might even be called (shudder) funky! We mellow out for a moment on a light little ballad entitled “Madrigal,” which is a love song nicely touched with haunting synthesizer melody, and the drums recorded in the echo room. Geddy turns in a nice vocal on this one, too.

A quick change of setting and atmosphere, and we find ourselves in the farthest reaches of outer space, in the middle of the black hole of “Cygnus X-1.” This is the first part of an epic story which is to be continued and concluded on our next album. The music was almost entirely created right in the studio, and it was a very satisfying accomplishment for us all. It has to be one of the most powerful things we have done. If it doesn’t give you goose bumps, you’re not playing it loud enough!

The Future—Our immediate future is, of course, touring. We will be touring the United States and Canada extensively until February of 1978, when we plan to return to Europe for an extensive six week tour, encompassing all of Great Britain and continental Europe as well. Shortly thereafter it will be time to record another album, maybe a holiday, and we would also like to venture into the Far East in the coming year, but as usual there is never time to accomplish all that one would like to.

Many dreams have come true for us, and we have tried to live up to them, and to deserve the respect of those who support us, and of those who don’t. Our only aim is to communicate the things that we enjoy, and the things that are important to us. Our only hope is perhaps to contribute something enjoyable and important to those we meet along the way, and surely there are few things more enjoyable or more important than good music. If that’s all that Rush is, that’s all that we would be.

Alex Lifeson

Before starting, I’d like to tell you it’s not easy writing about oneself. However, I’ll do my best not to bore you.

I was born in the thriving mountain fishing port of Fernie, British Columbia, where many foreign looking gentlemen with large foreheads and thick accents kept their prairie schooners and U-boats moored. When I became old enough to walk, I learned how to walk. I knew even then, that I had to get to Toronto, where I could meet someone into more than “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” Later, I grew older.

After a brief stint at not learning how to play the viola, I decided to take up the guitar. That was just about ten years ago. It was around this time, that I met Geddy. Suddenly my life changed. I grew older.

John Rutsey, who was a viking then, Geddy, who wasn’t a viking, and myself formed the band as it isn’t today to patrol war-torn areas of the Middle-East and to incur as many debts as possible. This we did with a passion.

Anyway, the rest isn’t history, but I’m sure you know what we’ve been doing since by what we’ve recorded. And if you do please tell me, because I don’t know and they only let me out on weekends and I hate that silly jacket with the long sleeves and they won’t give me a sharpener for my crayons!

Equipment: Besides my crayons and Batman colouring book, I use two Marshall 100’s spread over three speaker cabinets, two spare Marshall amps, three spare speaker cabinets, one Fender J.B.L. Twin Reverb for primary p.a. miking, one each Gibson ES-335, ES-355, Les Paul Standard, Custom Double-Neck, Custom Pyramid, Dove, J-55, B-45-12, C-40, BG-50 mandolin, two echo-plexes, one Roland Chorus unit, one Morley volume pedal, one Cry Baby Wah Wah, one Electric Mistress, one Custom built Kojima Pedal Board and a one only Lief Bjorn all-night guitar-tuner.

Neil Peart

I first took up playing the drums at the age of 13, when my parents became weary of me beating up the furniture with a pair of chopsticks, and gave me drum lessons for my birthday. Soon I had my first drum kit, a lovely little three-piece outfit in red sparkle. After a period of formal lessons, I spent my evenings playing along with the hits of the day on the radio (up very loud beside my ear, the neighbours loved it!). However, I got to feel the limitations of “These Boots are Made For Walking” in my musical education, and I was looking for something stronger.

It was then that I became emotionally involved with music, when I discovered the great progressive music of the Who, Hendrix, Cream, and others of the era who were innovative, exciting, and inspired with the freedom of expression which was present for the first time in popular music. I was hooked.

Certainly the most important event in my somewhat chequered career was my meeting with Alex and Geddy. Here at last was a band that wanted to achieve something worthwhile. Throughout our time together, Rush has fulfilled all of my musical aspirations and personal ambitions. Our open approach to our music has allowed me to develop in any direction in which I felt an interest, with no boundaries, and no preconceived limitations. Who could ask for more? Not me.

My drums are all by Slingerland, with the shells all treated with a process called VibraFibing, which puts a thin layer of fiberglass on the inner shell. This helps to improve the natural warmth and resonance of the drums, while it sharpens the attack to give greater projection. The kit consists of two 24″ bass drums, 6″, 8″, 10″ and 12″ concert toms, 12″, 13″, 15″, and 18″, tom-toms, and a 5″ x 14″ wooden snare drum. The cymbals are all by Avedis Zildjian, a 6″ and 8″ splash, two 16″, one 18″, and one 20″ crash cymbals, a 22″ ride, an 18″ pang, and a pair of 13″ hi-hats.

My collection of percussion “toys” currently includes tubular bells, glockenspiel, wind chimes, temple blocks, timbales, bell tree, triangles, and a set of melodic cowbells.

I use Remo Black Dot drum heads on my snare and bass drums, Ludwig Silver Dots on the concert toms and timbales, and Evans Looking Glass (top), and Blue Hydraulic (bottom) on the tom-tome. I use Promark 747 drumsticks, with the varnish sanded off of the gripping area.

Geddy Lee


To talk about my history as a musician is really the same as talking about the history of Rush. I guess you could say we grew up together. I joined in the early weeks of the band’s existence, approximately nine years ago. (September 1968) Alex called me up, and in those days when Alex called it was usually to borrow my amp. But this time he wanted to borrow me, to play a local drop-in centre along with John Rutsey that very night. I agreed, so we rehearsed for a couple of hours and did the gig. We enjoyed the music that we made together and decided to make a go of it in the name of Rush. And here I am still.

My goals and aspirations as a musician were and are simply this: To make music that reaches the standards I have set for myself, measured against the standards of those musicians whom I admire and respect. And most important, to continue growing as a musician and never to accept something that is second best. In Rush, I have, and am, finding the fulfillment of these goals.

My Equipment

I use a Rickenbacker bass model 4001 primarily. I use this in stereo with my treble pickup going to an Ampeg SVT and two twin fifteen Sunn Cabinets with S.R.O. speakers placed on both sides of the stage. My bass pickup goes to an Ampeg SVT and two V4B cabinets with J.B. Lansing speakers also placed on both sides of the stage.

I also use a Rickenbacker double-neck guitar-bass. The bass is a model 4001 and the guitar is a standard Rickenbacker twelve string with humbucking pickups. I use a Fender twin Reverb with the twelve string. Other basses include a Rickenbacker model 3001 and a customized Fender Precision with a treble pickup added and wired in stereo and cut down to tear drop shape.

I have a Gibson ES-335, a Martin Nylon string acoustic, and a Gibson Dove acoustic. The synthesizers I use are one Moog Taurus pedals and one Mini Moog.

Rush take approximately eight hours to set up their show for public viewing. It takes sixteen people in total to perform the necessary functions to convert an empty stage into a finely produced performance. Everything from the sound and lighting to the band’s equipment is erected with skill and precision timing. The show is broken down into three groups: lighting company, sound company, and personal band equipment.

National Sound
National Sound is a P.A. company out of Springfield, Va., which provides custom built equipment and skilled technicians. The equipment used is designed to project sound so that it can successfully deliver the group’s dynamics to an audience as vast as 15,000 people, and in some cases as many as 23,000 people. All of the speakers used are J.B.L. speakers, thirty-two twelve inch J.B.L. speakers, plus 24 18″ J.B.L. speakers, twelve banks of radial and high end horns and eight long-throw horns. Rush use a total of thirty-five microphones supplied by Shure, Sennheiser & Electrovoice. In addition to the main system, Rush’s monitors are powered by Crown, with mixing facilities provided by Soundcraft and Apsi. The sixteen channel monitor mixer and the thirty-two channel house mixing consoles are among the equipment provided. All special effects pertaining to sound are provided by Rush through Eventide Clockworks. Amongst the Eventide equipment is an Eventide Digital Delay, Eventide Instant Phaser, and an Eventide Harmonizer with Keyboard attachment.

See Factor Industries, Inc.
See Factor is a company out of New York City which provides custom designed theatrical lighting. The system that Rush is presently using contains over one-hundred and fifty lamps and was built specially for them. Among the equipment used there are custom ordered bulbs called Aircraft Landing lamps and Mole Richardson Fey lamps, both of these are theatrically used to surround the band in a cage of lights. There are also sixty-five 1000 watt par lamps mixed together with some Liko lamps and beam projectors. All of these lights are controlled by a sixty channel, three scene preset master board. In addition to the main sixty channel board, there is an eighteen scene matrix patch panel with independent programming switches to allow scene changes in colour to be set up in advance of its projected use.

The Band: Alex Lifeson, Geddy Lee, Neil Peart
The next group of people are the most essential to the show’s success primarily because they are the band’s personal crew. This crew totals five professional technical consultants. This crew sets up the band’s instruments and co-ordinates all the staging needed to insure a smooth running and professional performance. Each member of the band utilizes his own technician who helps him obtain the sound and freedom he needs so that he can perform unhindered and to the best of his ability. Most of the crew members work twenty-four hours a day for months on end, and are dedicated to the sole purpose of providing an exciting and innovative production, which they are proud to bring to cities all over the world.

Rush Personal Crew
Roadmaster, Lighting Producer & Director—Howard Ungerleider
Stage Manager—Mike Hirsh
Sound Engineer & Crew Co-ordinatlon—Ian Grandy
Stage Right Technician—Liam Birt
Stage Left Technician—Skip Gildersleeve
Centre Stage Technician—Larry Allen
Guitar Maintenance & Backstage Co-ordination—Tony Geranios
Chauffeur Extraordinaire & Electrical Supervision—George Hoadley

National Sound, Springfield, Va.
Tom Linthicum—Chlef Technician
Steve Brooks,Terry Ward—Technicians

See Factor Industries, Inc.
New York City—Bob See, President—Eliot Krowe, Vice-President
John LeBlanc/Ruke Subourne—Technicians

Special thanks to:
Fanfare Sound Inc.—Chicago
Electrosound P.A.—United Kingdom
Len Wright Travel—United Kingdom
Thrasher Bus Lines—Birmingham, Ala.
See Factor Trucking—New York City
Edwin-Shirley Trucking—United Kingdom
Management—Ray Danniels, Vic Wilson, Toronto, Canada

Booking Agencies
Canada—Music Shoppe International—Toronto, Canada
United States—American Talent International—New York City
United Kingdom—Bron Agency—London, England

P.O. Box 640, Thornhill, Ontario, Canada L3T 4A5

 155 lines, 155 song meanings

~ by rvkeeper on March 12, 2011.

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