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Alex Lifeson Is Suffering From Arthritis

Kevin Winter, Getty Images

It sounds like the members of Rush have piled up so many rock ‘n’ roll war wounds that they may not have a choice whether to stop touring.

Guitarist Alex Lifeson and drummer Neil Peart are finding it particularly tough to play these days. Peart has tendonitis in his arm, hampering his ability to hit the drums pain-free, and Lifeson is suffering from worsening arthritis — which Geddy Lee says could be the main thing that will end up driving the band from the stage.

“For Alex the arthritis is not a small thing. If anything is going to mean we can’t tour any more like we used to, it’s more than likely going to be the arthritis – because that’s something that will directly affect his ability to play,” Lee told Classic Rock. “If I was going out onstage and I couldn’t play the way I want to, or the way I’ve played in the past, there’s no way I’d want to do it. I wouldn’t want to go out there and be a shadow of my former self.”

“I’ve had it for 10 years – and this is the first time I’m really feeling it in my hands and my feet,” admitted Lifeson, although he insists, “It’s a lot harder for Neil. He’s got tendonitis in his arm. To be honest, I don’t know how he gets through playing the way he does, being in that sort of discomfort and pain. But he’s a very stoic guy.”

Lee seems particularly concerned for Lifeson, however. “It kind of hurts me to see him when he’s having a bad day, physically. He’s one of my oldest and dearest friends,” he said. “And when he’s been at rehearsal and he’s not playing his best, it’s not nice to see your friend suffer like that. This thing is in the back of his mind, and he’s afraid of it.”

Lifeson suggests that Peart “probably would have quit years ago if he didn’t feel that he owed something to us,” but stresses that he understands the drummer’s willingness to let go of the musician’s lifestyle — and says that no matter what happens in terms of future tours, he still believes Rush has new music left to offer.

“I’d love to make another record. It’s such a fun experience,” he added. “I’m sure if we start coming up with some stuff, Neil would be right in there – he’d love that.”

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