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|Geddy Lee: bass guitar, lead vocals,
keyboards (September 1968–present)
Gary Lee Weinrib, better known as Geddy Lee (born July 29, 1953) is a Canadian musician, best
known as the lead vocalist, bassist, and keyboardist for the Canadian rock group Rush. Lee
joined what would become Rush in September 1968, at the request of his childhood friend Alex
Lifeson, replacing original bassist and frontman Jeff Jones. An award-winning musician, Lee's
style, technique, and skill on the bass guitar have inspired many rock and heavy metal musicians.
In addition to his composing, arranging, and performing duties for Rush, Lee has produced for
various other bands, including Rocket Science. Lee's first solo effort, My Favorite Headache, was
released in 2000. Along with his Rush bandmates — guitarist Alex Lifeson and drummer Neil Peart
— Lee was made an Officer of the Order of Canada on May 9, 1996. The trio was the first rock
band to be so honored, as a group. Lee is ranked 13th by Hit Parader on their list of the 100
Greatest Heavy Metal vocalists of all time.
Geddy Lee was born Gary Lee Weinrib on July 29, 1953 in Willowdale, North York, Canada. Lee's
stage name, Geddy, was inspired by his mother's heavily-accented pronunciation of his given first
name, Gary, and it later became his high school nickname before he adopted it as his stage name. In an interview written in Bass Frontiers
Magazine, Geddy Lee explains; "My born name is Gary. My real name, now, is Geddy. Okay, it's like the same story of 'Leave it to Beaver'. (laughs).
The story goes: my mother is Polish and she has a very thick accent. When I was about twelve years old, I had a friend who, whenever he heard my
mother pronounce my name, he thought she was calling me, 'Geddy'. He started calling me 'Geddy', and eventually, all of my friends started calling
me 'Geddy', and eventually my mother started to call me 'Geddy', for real. And eventually, I changed my name legally to 'Geddy', so that's the story
and that's my name, Geddy."
The bulk of Lee's work in music has been with Rush. However, Lee has also contributed to a body of work outside of his involvement with the band
through guest appearances and album production. In 1981, Lee was the featured guest for the hit song "Take Off" and its included comedic
commentary with Bob and Doug McKenzie (played by Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas, respectively) for the McKenzie Brothers' comedy album Great
White North. The following year, Lee produced the debut (and only) album from Toronto new wave band Boys Brigade. On the 1985 album We Are
the World, by humanitarian consortium USA for Africa, Lee recorded guest vocals for the song "Tears Are Not Enough". Apart from band
contributions, Lee sang the Canadian National Anthem in front of a full crowd at Camden Yards for the 1993 All-Star Game. Another version of "O
Canada" in rock format was recorded by Lee and Lifeson on the accompanying soundtrack CD for the Trey Parker and Matt Stone film South Park:
Bigger, Longer, and Uncut released in 1999.
My Favorite Headache, Lee's first solo album, was released in November 2000 while Rush was on a hiatus due to tragedies in drummer Neil Peart's
life. Lee appeared in Broken Social Scene's music video for their 2006 single "Fire Eye'd Boy", judging the band while they perform various musical
tasks, and in 2006, Lee joined Lifeson's supergroup the Big Dirty Band, to provide songs accompanying Trailer Park Boys: The Movie.
For his first local gigs in the early 1970s and Rush's debut album, Lee used a Fender Precision Bass. From Fly By Night onward, Lee favored
Rickenbacker basses, particularly the 4001 model. It was during the making of A Farewell To Kings when Geddy began using a custom made
Rickenbacker Bass/Guitar Double Neck, incorporating a 4001 bass and a 480 12-string guitar. This would become the 4080/12 model Double Neck,
a later Rickenbacker production model. Geddy would use this double neck all throughout the "Kings" tour in 1977 - 78, until retiring it at the end of
the "Moving Pictures" Tour in 1981. Geddy would begin using the Fender Jazz Bass which is heard on Permanent Waves, Moving Pictures, Signals
and the supporting tours. In 1981, Lee began using the compact, headless Steinberger bass, which he occasionally used on the supporting tour for
Signals and for several tracks on Grace Under Pressure. From 1985 to 1992, Lee used British Wal basses. He switched back to Fender Jazz Basses
for the recording of Counterparts in 1993, and has been using them virtually exclusively since, heard on albums Test For Echo, Vapor Trails,
Feedback and Snakes & Arrows. However, he used a Fender Jaco Pastorius Tribute fretless replica bass for the song "Malignant Narcissism" on
Snakes & Arrows, and a Fender Custom Shop Jazz with an Alder Body and a Flamed Maple top in Transparent Red for songs in an alternate tuning
during the last several tours. In 1998, Fender released the Geddy Lee Jazz Bass, available in Black and 3-Colour Sunburst (as of 2009). This
signature model is a recreation of Lee's favorite bass, a 1972 Fender Jazz that he bought in a pawn shop in Kalamazoo, Michigan. On all of his
basses, Lee uses Rotosound Swing Bass 66 Stainless Steel round-wound strings (RS66LD). Lee once again used his Rickenbacker 4001 for the
performance of "A Passage To Bangkok" on the 2007 and 2008 Snakes & Arrows Tour. During the same tour, Schecter Guitar Research provided
him with a "004" bass in a one-off dark walnut finish, with a body shape that was blatantly similar to the Rickenbacker design. It is unknown if this
instrument was ever used on the tour, and he has apparently not used it since. For the 2010 Time Machine Tour Lee added the alchemical symbol
for "Amalgamation" to the body of his Fender Jazz Bass guitar.
Keyboards and synthesizers:
Over the years, Lee's keyboards have featured synthesizers from Oberheim (Eight-voice, OB-1, OB-X, OB-Xa), PPG (Wave 2.2 and 2.3), Roland
(Jupiter 8, D-50, XV-5080, and a Fantom X7 starting on the Snakes & Arrows Tour), Moog (Minimoog, Taurus bass pedals, Moog Little Phatty), and
Yamaha (DX7, Yamaha KX76). Lee used sequencers early in their development and has continued to use similar innovations as they have
developed over the years. Lee has also made use of digital samplers. Combined, these electronic devices have supplied many memorable keyboard
sounds, such as the "growl" in "Tom Sawyer" and the melody featured in the chorus of "The Spirit of Radio".
With 1993's Counterparts, Rush reduced most keyboard- and synthesizer-derived sounds in their compositions, and they continued to do so with
each successive album. In 2002, the band produced an album—Vapor Trails—that was completely free of keyboards and synthesizers, featuring
only voice, guitar, bass guitar, drums and percussion. With the release of 2007's Snakes & Arrows, Lee sparingly adds a Mellotron and bass pedals
to the instrument line-up. However, it does not mark a return to a "synth" sound for the band. Much like Vapor Trails, the music is primarily recorded
with multiple layers of guitars, bass, drums and percussion.
Newer advances in synthesizer and sampler technology have allowed Lee to store familiar sounds from his old synthesizers alongside new ones in
combination synthesizer/samplers, such as the Roland XV-5080. For live shows in 2002 and 2004, Lee and his keyboard technician used the
playback capabilities of the XV-5080 to generate virtually all of Rush's keyboard sounds to date, as well as additional complex sound passages that
previously required several machines at once to produce.
When playing live, Lee and his bandmates recreate their songs as accurately as possible with digital samplers. Using these samplers, the band
members are able to recreate, in real-time, the sounds of non-traditional instruments, accompaniments, vocal harmonies, and other sound "events"
that are familiar to those who have heard Rush songs from their albums.
To trigger these sounds in real-time, Lee uses MIDI controllers, placed at the locations on the stage where he has a microphone stand. Lee uses two
types of MIDI controllers: one type resembles a traditional synthesizer keyboard on a stand (Yamaha KX76). The second type is a large foot-pedal
keyboard, placed on the stage floor (Korg MPK-130, Roland PK-5). Combined, they enable Lee to use his free hands and feet to trigger sounds in
electronic equipment that has been placed off-stage. It is with this technology that Lee and his bandmates are able to present their arrangements
in a live setting with the level of complexity and fidelity that fans have come to expect, and without the need to resort to the use of backing tracks or
employing an additional band member.
Lee's (and his bandmates') use of MIDI controllers to trigger sampled instruments and audio events is visible throughout the R30: 30th Anniversary
World Tour concert DVD (2005). From the Snakes and Arrows tour onwards, Lee has used a Roland Fantom X7 and a Moog Little Phatty
As of 1996, Lee no longer uses traditional bass amplifiers on stage, as he prefers to go direct into the venue's FOH console which helps the sound
reinforcement during the concerts. Faced with the dilemma of what to do with the empty space left behind by the lack of large amplifier cabinets, Lee
chose to decorate his side of the stage with unusual items.
For the 1996–1997 Test for Echo Tour, Lee's side sported a fully-stocked old-fashioned household refrigerator. For the 2002 Vapor Trails tour, Lee
lined his side of the stage with three coin-operated Maytag dryers. Other large appliances appeared later in the same space. For visual effect they
were "miked" by the sound crew, just as a real amplifier would be. Rush's crew loaded the dryers with specially-designed Rush-themed T-shirts,
different from the shirts on sale to the general public. At the close of each show, Lee and Lifeson tossed these T-shirts into the audience. The dryers
can be seen on the Rush in Rio DVD and the R30 DVD. For the band's R30 tour, one dryer was replaced with a rotating shelf-style vending
machine. It too was fully stocked and operational during shows. The vending machine can be seen on the R30 DVD.
The Snakes & Arrows Tour commenced June 13, 2007, with a show at the Hi-Fi Buys Amphitheater in Atlanta, Georgia. The show prominently
featured 3 Henhouse brand rotisserie chicken ovens on stage complete with an attendant in a chef's hat and apron to "tend" the chickens during the