Rush Inducted Into the Ultimate Classic Rock Hall of Fame
The voting was very, very close, but in the end, classic rock’s preeminent Canadian power trio emerged victorious over our favorite Midwestern wayward sons. With 50.8 percent of the vote, Rush have defeated Kansas to become the latest inductees into the Ultimate Classic Rock Hall of Fame.
Formed in the summer of 1968 in the affluent Willowdale suburb of Toronto, Rush spent the next several years working the local live circuit while building a repertoire of original material. The band released its first single in 1973 (a cover of Buddy Holly’s ‘Not Fade Away’), but its lack of success inspired them to try their luck as an indie act; after forming their own label, Moon Records, with manager Ray Danniels, they issued their self-titled debut LP in 1974.
Relentless touring helped spread the gospel of Rush, and the support of Cleveland DJ Donna Halper turned the ‘Rush’ track ‘Working Man‘ into a local hit that became an FM phenomenon and attracted the notice of Mercury Records, where the group signed later that year. The new deal capped a flurry of changes for the generally fairly steady trio. Original drummer John Rutsey had been forced to bow out of the lineup due to health issues not long after ‘Rush’ was released, and the arrival of new drummer Neil Peart proved fortuitous in more ways than one, as his gift for writing uncommonly thoughtful lyrics freed up guitarist Alex Lifeson and bassist/vocalist Geddy Lee to devote more of their energies to composing arrangements.
Although the group’s music continued to deepen and expand, mainstream success eluded them until the release of 1976’s ‘2112,’ which broke their heavy brand of prog into the Top 100 of the Billboard album charts; by the following year, it was certified Gold for sales of half a million copies, and the band was off and running with an unbroken string of bestselling records that continued with 1977’s ‘A Farewell to Kings’ and most recently grew to include 2012’s ‘Clockwork Angels.’
While certainly no strangers to platinum sales, Rush spent decades being perceived as a cult band, and suffered a relative lack of attention from certain mainstream rock magazines. Over time, however, the group’s “cult” expanded to include multiple generations of fans, and by the time they made a cameo appearance in the 2009 comedy ‘I Love You, Man,’ they’d officially become members of rock’s elder statesman class — and been woven firmly into the cultural lexicon. The documentary ‘Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage’ followed in 2010, and then, in 2013, they pulled off the once-impossible-seeming feat of being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl inducted the band by quipping “When the f— did Rush become cool?,” and to those who’d long regarded the group’s music as the exclusive property of socially maladjusted nerds, it was a fair enough question. But to those in the know, Rush have been cool for decades — and now they have a membership in the UCR Hall of Fame to add to their long list of richly deserved honors.