Rush Roadie Skip Gildersleeve Passes Away at 57
Long-time Rush roadie Russell (“Skip”) Gildersleeve has passed away at age 57. He had been with Rush in various capacities since Caress of Steel, although he had not been on tour with them since 1997. Most recently, Skip, who is from Detroit, was guitar tech for fellow Detroit native Bob Seger on his last tour.
Skip first met the band when they played the Michigan Palace in Detroit during their Fly by Night tour. He worked as Geddy’s bass technician in the early years. In the 1980s and into the 1990s, he often worked as the left stage technician. That was his job on the tours for All the World’s a Stage, A Show of Hands, Power Windows, and Hold Your Fire.
For the Test for Echo tour he was credited with the title “Office Production.”
Neil in his tour book essay for Grace Under Pressure described the snowy conditions at Le Studio in Montreal when they were recording the album and about some of the things the band and crew did to keep themselves entertained during those wintry weeks.
“Skip and Larry (Allen) decorated the little guest cottage, (‘The Little House on the Driveway’) with Christmas lights and a wreath. Peter, Alex, Geddy and Larry got up early to play tennis, I got up early to go skiing, Skip got up early to come home from the “Commons” and Jack got up early to roll over.”
A talented guitarist in his own right, Skip and other long-time technician Jack Secret teamed up during one Rush recording session to record their own song, called “Tough Break.” Alex, Geddy, and Neil later joined in to help round out the piece. You can listen to that song here.
Ed at RushIsABand has excerpted a passage on Skip from the Rush biography Chemistry:
“Russell “Skip” Gildersleeve is a crew veteran of many bands. He was brought in for the ‘Caress of Steel’ tour to replace Jimmy Johnson, And he often used to introduce the band. Skip, a.k.a. “Slider”, became Geddy’s bass technician, and by Counterparts he graduated to a stage management role. When not touring with Rush, he worked for Steely Dan (with Lorne Wheaton) as equipment manager, and guitar tech for Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band. Skip is no mean guitar player himself. He guested on Japanese artist Venus Fly Trapp’s debut CD ‘Shakunetsu’, which means “red heat”.”
In a moving tribute to Skip, Kim Maki, a friend of his, says “The great news is Skip lived his life doing exactly what he loved. Makes it a bit easier to say so long to him.”
Maki’s blog, RetroKimmer, has a number of photos of Skip from over the years. There’s a fun video there, too.–-Rob Freedman, Rush Vault