History of Rush
The history of the rock band Rush spans over forty years. The group progressed from a fluctuating early lineup between the summer of 1968 and May 1971, to Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and John Rutsey at the release of their first album in March 1974, to the replacement of Rutsey with Neil Peart in July of that same year. This resulted in the final definitive form of the band and the incarnation of Lee, Peart and Lifeson has lasted for more than 40 years to the present.
Over time, Rush has changed their style of music dramatically; evolving from a sound derivative of Led Zeppelin on their eponymous debut album to styles encompassing hard rock, progressive rock, and a period dominated by synthesizers; their music today can best be described as modern rock. The band continues to produce music and tour extensively.
Formation and first album (1968–1974)
The original line-up of Rush formed in August 1968, in Toronto, Ontario, consisting of Jeff Jones (bass and lead vocals), John Rutsey (drums and backing vocals) and Alex Lifeson (guitars and backing vocals). It was Rutsey's older brother who suggested the name Rush immediately before the band's first gig at The Coff-In, a local coffee shop in the basement of St. Theodore's of Canterbury Anglican Church. This was a play on words alluding to the frantic scrambling of the band members as they tried to come up with a title. That same summer, Jones was replaced as bassist and lead vocalist by Lifeson's schoolmate Gary Lee Weinrib, who went by the name of Geddy Lee. The name Geddy was inspired by the heavily accented pronunciation of his first name by his Polish mother.
After this point, Rush experienced rapid personnel changes and lineup reformations before finally settling on its officially recognized incarnation. This began in January 1969 when Lindy Young came on board at the request of Lifeson to play keyboards, guitars and vocals. Lee was asked to leave Rush that May, and he went on to form his own band which he first called Ogilvie, but later opted for the name Judd. Rush and Judd were both managed by local friend Ray Danniels. Lee was replaced in Rush by bassist and vocalist Joe Perna, and at this point the name of the band was changed to Hadrian. Lee had such terrific success with his newly formed band that Young made the decision to leave and join Judd, resulting in the final dissolution of Hadrian. However, in September, the members of Judd also disbanded allowing Lee, Lifeson, and Rutsey to reconvene as Rush once again. In February 1971, Michael Bossi was recruited as rhythm guitarist, however, his tenure was extremely short-lived and he quit in May of the same year leaving behind the three members to carry on as a trio. During these early years, Rush would cover bands that would influence their future sound: The Who, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Cream, Jimi Hendrix, and Eric Clapton. They also began writing original compositions; initial songs would include "Keep in Line", "Garden Road", "Slaughterhouse", and "Feel So Good".
After experiencing some stability in their line-up and honing their skills on the local bar/high school dance circuit, Rush decided to release their first single in 1973 before attempting work on a full album. Side A contained "Not Fade Away", a cover of the Buddy Holly song, while on side B there was an original composition titled "You Can't Fight It" credited to Rutsey and Lee. To the chagrin of the band, the single did not generate the desired commercial reaction. Because numerous record companies refused to produce and distribute Rush's music, the band was forced to form their own record label, Moon Records. However, despite these early setbacks, Lee, Lifeson, and Rutsey, with the aid of Danniels and newly enlisted engineer Terry Brown, released their first album in March 1974, the self-titled Rush. Highly derivative of Led Zeppelin, Rush had limited local popularity until the original release, distributed by Moon Records, was picked up by WMMS, a radio station in Cleveland, Ohio. Donna Halper, a DJ and station manager working at the time, selected the seven-minute "Working Man" to be part of the regular play cycle. This song was the band's first release to garner commercial feedback. It resonated with hard rock fans in North America; being reminiscent of Led Zeppelin, with Lee sounding similar to Robert Plant, and Lifeson's guitar riffs modeled partly after Jimmy Page's style. This popularity led the album to be redistributed by Mercury Records.
Early days (1974–1976)
The same year, Rutsey resigned because of his affliction with diabetes and a distaste for touring. Rush held auditions for a replacement drummer before finally selecting Neil Peart on July 29, 1974 (consequently ending his tenure in his previous band, Hush). Before joining the band, Peart had recently traveled to London, England to further his musical career. He became increasingly disillusioned with the music scene and emigrated back to Canada where he auditioned for Rush. Incidentally, Lifeson has remarked in interviews that his immediate impression of Peart was actually less than favorable (in terms of personality), while Lee was much more accepting. In the end, Lee managed to convince Lifeson to accept Peart. Peart's inclusion led the band to more progressive ethos over the course of its next few albums, Fly by Night, Caress of Steel, and 2112. He also became the band's principal lyricist since Lee and Lifeson had very little interest in writing, contributing to only a few songs over the rest of the band's career. Instead, the two of them focused solely on the musical aspects of Rush. Although these early albums were still heavily entrenched in the blues-inspired hard rock that dominated their eponymous debut, more complex song structures and progressive rock arrangements became apparent. Fly By Night (1975), Rush's first album after recruiting Peart, saw the inclusion of the band's first mini-epic tale "By-Tor and the Snow Dog", replete with complex arrangements and multi-section format. Lyrical themes also underwent dramatic changes after the addition of Peart because of his love for fantasy and science-fiction literature.
Following quickly on the heels of Fly By Night, the band released Caress of Steel (1975), a five track hard rock album featuring two extended multi-chapter songs, "The Necromancer" and "The Fountain of Lamneth". The latter was Rush's first full-fledged epic, with side two of the album entirely devoted to the song, while the former, a nod to J. R. R. Tolkien, was a more compact "mini-epic". Caress of Steel was considered an audacious move for the band because of the placement of two protracted numbers back-to-back, as well as a heavier reliance on atmospherics and science fiction/fantasy based story-telling. Still, the lead-off track "Bastille Day" hearkened back to the previous album and became a fan favourite "rocker". The song was consistently used as the opener for many of their live shows in the late 1970s. Intended to be the band's first "break-through" album, Caress of Steel sold quite poorly, and the promotional tour consisted of small lackluster venues, which led to the moniker the "Down the Tubes Tour". In light of these events, Rush's record label pressured them into molding their next album in a more commercially friendly and accessible fashion. However, in spite of such urges, the band ignored these requests, and their next album, 1976's 2112, was the band's first taste of commercial success and their first Canadian gold and platinum album. After the success of 2112, the band released a double live album entitled All the World's a Stage in 1976 to separate Rush's early work from their upcoming music.
Mainstream success (1977–1981)
After 2112, Rush followed up with 1977's A Farewell to Kings and 1978's Hemispheres. These albums saw the band pushing the prog rock envelope even further than before by expanding their use of progressive elements. Trademarks such as increased synthesizer usage, extended length concept songs, and highly dynamic playing featuring complex time signature changes became a staple of Rush's compositions, while the addition of new instruments and playing styles contributed to the progressive character of Rush's sound. Lifeson began to experiment with twelve- and six-string acoustic and classical guitars, introducing yet another facet to the music. Songs such as "A Farewell To Kings", "Closer to the Heart", and "The Trees" make use of finger picking, a common classical guitar technique, while the introduction to "La Villa Strangiato" featured flamenco Spanish guitar lines. Lee also began to assimilate different instrumentation, such as bass-pedal synthesizers and Mini-Moog, into Rush's songs to achieve a broader sound palette. Likewise, Peart's percussion became diversified in the form of triangles, glockenspiel, wood blocks, cowbells, gong and chimes.
Beyond instrument additions, the band kept in stride with the progressive rock movement by continuing to compose long atmospheric songs, usually conceptual in nature with science fiction and fantasy overtones. The two albums that followed after 2112 were linked by a two-part interconnected storyline. Hemispheres contains a sequel to A Farewell to King's "Cygnus X-1" titled "Cygnus X-1 Book II: Hemispheres". While Rush produced a few other multi-chapter songs over the rest of their career, "Cygnus X-1 Book II: Hemispheres" was their last side-spanning epic. The lyrics of this time (most of them written by Peart) were heavily influenced by classical poetry, fantasy literature, science fiction and, in a few cases, the writings of novelist Ayn Rand, as exhibited most prominently by their 1975 song "Anthem" from Fly By Night and a specifically acknowledged derivation in 1976's 2112. As the new decade approached, Rush gradually began to dispose of their older styles of music in favor of shorter, and sometimes softer, arrangements.
During an interview in 1978, Lee stated that Rush felt they had taken the long-song format as far as they could or wanted. Many of their early songs received limited airplay and commercial recognition because of their extended length (in some cases exceeding ten minutes). This partially contributed to the band's apparent change in direction while recording Permanent Waves in 1979. Here, Rush began to opt for shorter songs that still retained their trademark musicianship and complexity. The album began the incorporation of styles such as reggae and new wave that would continue in the band's early 1980s albums. Also, although a hard rock style was still evident, more and more synthesizers were introduced. However, lengthy songs similar to the band's 1970s output made a few final appearances in this period, such as "Jacob's Ladder" and "Natural Science". The nine-minute track "Natural Science" is considered the band's last true multi-chapter song since it comprises three individual passages as explicitly stated in the liner notes. Yet, even after purposely forgoing the extended song format, many of the band's songs would continue to clock in at five or six minutes, still just outside mainstream music convention. However, Permanent Waves was able to spawn two radio classics, "The Spirit of Radio" and "Freewill", songs which combined musical complexity with marketable accessibility that allowed Rush to emerge as a more radio friendly band. Both songs continue to make appearances on classic rock radio stations in Canada and the United States to this day.
Lyrical themes also changed markedly during this time, beginning to rely much less on science-fiction imagery. Instead, Peart's lyrics took on a more expository tone with subject matter that dwelled less upon fantastical or allegorical story-telling and more heavily on cerebral topics that explored humanitarian, social, emotional, and metaphysical elements.
Rush's popularity hit its zenith with the release of Moving Pictures in 1981. Moving Pictures essentially continued where Permanent Waves left off, extending the trend of highly accessible and commercially friendly pop-progressive rock that helped thrust them into the spotlight. The lead track, "Tom Sawyer", is probably the band's best known song. "Limelight" also received satisfactory responses from listeners, and to this day (along with "Tom Sawyer") still remains a relatively popular song on classic rock radio stations across North America. It should be mentioned that Moving Pictures was the very last album to feature an extended song, the 11 minute "The Camera Eye". Incidentally, the song also possessed the band's heaviest usage of keyboards and synthesizers up to that point, hinting that Rush's music was veering in yet another new direction. Moving Pictures shot up to #3 on the Billboard Album Chart and has been certified quadruple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
Following the success of Moving Pictures, Rush released their second live recording, Exit...Stage Left, in 1981. More than anything else, the album delineates the apex of Rush's progressive period featuring live material from the band's Permanent Waves and Moving Pictures tours. As with their first live release, Exit...Stage Left identified the margin of yet another chapter of Rush's sound. The band underwent another radical stylistic transmutation with the release of Signals in 1982.
Synthesizer period (1982–1989)
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While Geddy Lee's synthesizers had been featured instruments ever since the late 1970s, 1982's Signals arguably represented Rush's most drastic stylistic transformation up to that point. Keyboards were suddenly shifted from a contrapuntal background to the melodic front-lines, while traditional guitar solos also became less of a focal point as seen in both "Countdown" and the lead-off track "Subdivisions". Both songs feature nimble lead synthesizer lines with minimalistic guitar chords and solos. Another song, "Losing It," features Ben Mink on electric violin, while Lifeson's guitar chords were less audible in the mix. Many Rush fans were disappointed with Lifeson's subdued guitar tone and overall diminished presence, but others enjoyed the adventurous musical territory. While the band members consciously decided to move in this overall direction, they felt dissatisfied with long-time producer Terry Brown's studio treatment of Signals and parted ways with him in 1983.
Signals contained Rush's only US top-40 pop hit, "New World Man", while, musically, other more experimental songs such as "Digital Man", "The Weapon", and "Chemistry" expanded the band's use of ska, reggae, and funk. More specifically, Lifeson's guitar tone and playing style on Signals were very reminiscent of contemporary acts of the time who were well known for incorporating such rhythms into their music, The Police and U2 being the most evident; and it is not at all uncommon to still hear comparisons drawn between Alex Lifeson and Andy Summers of The Police. These diverse styles would come into further play on their next studio album.
The style and production of Signals were augmented and taken to new heights on 1984's Grace Under Pressure. Although Lee's use of sequencer and synthesizer remained the band's cornerstone, his focus on new technology was complemented by Peart's adaptation of electronic drums and percussion—a sonic evolutionary step similar to A Farewell to Kings. Lifeson's contributions on the album were also decidedly enhanced. Even still, many of his trademark guitar textures remained intact in the form of open reggae chords and funk and new-wave rhythms; "Red Lenses", "Red Sector A" and "The Enemy Within" serving as prime examples. Grace Under Pressure also featured several popular MTV music videos, including the anti-nuclear anthem "Distant Early Warning".
Peart began to address previously unexplored motifs in his writing such as nuclear war, the Holocaust, deep personal strife, and communism. Such subjects obviously deal with secular, environmental, and humanitarian concerns that were rather unorthodox for Peart at the time. However, from this point on, his lyrics would more or less continue in this vein for the remainder of the band's career, albeit with less despondency.
1985's Power Windows and 1987's Hold Your Fire could be considered the peak of this musical chapter of Rush. Produced by Peter Collins, the music on these two albums give far more emphasis and prominence to Geddy Lee's multi-layered synthesizer work. However, Power Windows still builds somewhat upon the momentum from Grace Under Pressure, even as it involves more sophisticated usage of sequencers and guitar minimalism. However, Alex Lifeson's presence is still palpable on "The Big Money", (the album's modest-charting single) with spotlights on "Grand Designs," "Middletown Dreams," and "Marathon."
1987's Hold Your Fire represents both a modest extension of the guitar stylings found on Power Windows, and the culmination of this era of Rush. Lifeson, like many guitarists in the late 1980s, began experimenting with processors that reduced his instrument to echoey chord colorings and razor-thin leads. Most Rush fans now agree that Lifeson's contributions on these two albums were secondary to Geddy Lee's bass playing and keyboard-sequencer arrangements. Whereas the previous five Rush albums sold platinum or better, Hold Your Fire only went gold in 1987. This would convince the group to change record labels from Mercury Records to Atlantic in 1989. A third live album and video, A Show of Hands (1989), was also released by Mercury following the Power Windows and Hold Your Fire tours, demonstrating the aspects of Rush in the 1980s. This was followed by the release of a two volume compilation entitled Chronicles by Mercury in 1990 as a chronological repackaging of the band's material between 1974 and 1989.
Return to guitar-oriented sound (1989–1997)
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Rush started to deviate from their 1980s style with the albums Presto and Roll the Bones. Produced by record engineer and musician Rupert Hine, these albums saw Rush shedding much of their keyboard-saturated sound. Beginning with Presto (1989), the band opted for arrangements that were notably more guitar-centric than the previous two studio albums. While synthesizers were still used in many songs, the instrument was no longer featured as the centerpiece of Rush's compositions. Moreover, songs such as "Red Tide", "Available Light", and "Anagram (For Mongo)" display prominent piano lines in lieu of synthetic keyboards. Some musical diversity was apparent in this transformation as well. The lead off track from Presto, "Show Don't Tell", is a mixture of funk rock and pop rock, "Scars" makes use of complex tribal drum patterns and rhythms, and the uptempo rocker "Superconductor" features more prominent guitar work than anything found on the previous four studio albums, representing a partial return to form. Continuing this trend, Roll the Bones (1991) extended the use of the standard three instrument approach with even less focus on synthesizers than its predecessor. While, musically, the album does not deviate too much from a general pop rock sound, some songs exhibit traces of more exotic styles. "Roll the Bones", for instance, has some funk and hip-hop elements, while the instrumental track "Where's My Thing?" (the band's first instrumental piece in a decade) features several jazz components. This return to three piece instrumentation would help pave the way for future albums in the mid-90s which would adopt a more straightforward rock formula.
Peart's lyrics continued to exhibit humanitarian and socially conscious themes during this time. While the band had long since shed their propensity for conceptual pieces, generalized (and almost conceptual) album themes became evident in Peart's writing. Many of the songs off of Roll the Bones, for instance, deal with the premises of chance and fortune, while several songs from Presto speak about the environment, emotion and human relations using meteorological, Earth Science, and celestial imagery as metaphors.
After Roll the Bones, the band largely dropped synthesizer-style keyboard sounds from their studio recordings in favor of a heavier, guitar-driven style and adapted the remaining keyboard sounds to more organic voices such as strings and organ. This transition began with the 1993 album Counterparts and continued with equal praise on the follow-up 1996's Test for Echo. Musically, Counterparts is one of Rush's most guitar-driven albums. One song in particular, "Stick it Out", is one of Rush's heaviest songs and has been often been cited as an example of Rush's deliberate melding of alternative rock and grunge with their own trademark style. While far from a progressive rock album in the traditional sense of the phrase, some songs such as "Double Agent" and "Leave that Thing Alone" feature mild prog-like attributes. The former displays significant voice overs and spoken narration sections that help tell a story of desperation and inner personal struggle. The latter is fully instrumental, albeit short, with organ and keyboard parts.
Many of the elements found on Counterparts were preserved on the follow-up Test For Echo. Again, while the music in general did not meet the criteria for "progressive rock", some of the songs could be considered more adventurous than what one might expect from a standard modern rock band. "Time and Motion" possesses several odd time signature changes and heavy organ, and another instrumental track, titled "Limbo", consists of several distinct, and relatively complex, musical passages repeated throughout. Musically, the album still retained much of the hard rock/alternative stylings already chartered on the previous record. Lifeson and Lee's playing remained more or less unchanged; however, a distinct modification in technique became apparent in Peart's playing.
During the interim between the release of Counterparts and Test for Echo, Peart sought out long time jazz instructor Freddie Gruber, who agreed to help him reinvent his drumming style with formal jazz and swing training. During the tour for Test for Echo Peart began to extensively use traditional grip. The latter is a hallmarked technique of big band, swing, and jazz drumming, and was used by Peart in concert while playing many of the songs from Test for Echo. This style of playing has been used extensively on every subsequent tour. The tour in support of the album also marked the first time the band hit the road without an opening act. This enabled them to increase the number of songs available for setlist inclusion, as well as extend their time on stage to approximately three hours. Shows consisted of two sets running approximately 80 minutes each, bridged by a short 15 minute intermission. Promotion for each live show featured the tagline "An Evening with Rush". This headlining and live format has remained unaltered to the present. To the welcomed surprise of long time fans, the tour also represented the first, and so far only, time that the song 2112 had been played live in its entirety. When all was said and done, the band's first tour as a solo act was an enormous success and members were optimistic and confident about where they were headed. Unfortunately, intense tragedy would strike Peart soon after and shroud the band's future in doubt and uncertainty.
Hiatus and comeback (1997–present)
After wrapping up the tour promoting Test for Echo in 1997, the band decidedly receded from the public eye and entered a five-year hiatus mainly because of personal tragedies in Peart's life. Peart's daughter Selena died in a car accident in August 1997, followed by his wife Jacqueline's death from cancer in June 1998. Peart embarked on a self-described "healing journey" by motorcycle in which he travelled thousands of kilometers across North America. He subsequently wrote about his travels in his book Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road. Rush later stated that they had nearly broken up during this period because of Neil's situation. During this period of inactivity, a triple-CD live album entitled Different Stages was released in 1998. It contained two discs packed with recorded performances from the band's Counterparts and Test for Echo tours, marking the fourth officially released live album by the band. The third disc was included as a bonus, a rare concert performance recorded on February 20, 1978 during the A Farewell to Kings tour from the Hammersmith Odeon in London. The entire package was dedicated to the loving memory of Selena and Jacqueline. Also during the hiatus, Geddy Lee released his solo album My Favourite Headache in November 2000.
After sufficient time to grieve and reassemble the pieces of his life, Peart married photographer Carrie Nuttall in September 2000. In early 2001 he announced to his band mates that he was ready to once again enter the studio and get back into the business of making music, a boon for fans who were worried about Rush's future. The band returned in May 2002 with the surprisingly heavy and modern sounding Vapor Trails album. To herald the band's comeback, the single and lead track from the album, "One Little Victory" was designed to grab the attention of listeners with its rapid guitar and drum tempos. While mostly heavy rock, the album displayed a fair share of musical eclecticism ranging from standard modern-riff rock and poppy numbers to songs that display a fresh smattering of progressive flavor. Vapor Trails also marks the first studio recording not to include a single synthesizer, organ, or keyboard part since the early 1970s. While the album is almost completely guitar-driven, it is mostly devoid of any conventional sounding guitar solos, a conscious decision made by Alex Lifeson during the writing process. He has been quoted as saying that he had purposely held back in this area because of the feel and mood that the album had as a whole, signifying the band's triumphant survival in the wake of Neil Peart's ordeals. Lyrical themes acutely contrast one another with warm optimism and icy despair to give the album a very introspective feel; inspired by Neil Peart's devastation and subsequent recovery. According to the band, the entire developmental process for Vapor Trails was extremely taxing and took approximately 14 months to complete, by far the longest the band has ever spent writing and recording a studio album. The album debuted to moderate praise and was supported by the band's first tour in six years, including first-ever concerts in Mexico City and Brazil, where they played to some of the largest crowds of their career.
The band was one of a number of hometown favourites to play Molson Canadian Rocks for Toronto, also dubbed SARStock, at Downsview Park in Toronto in August 2003, with an attendance of over half a million people.
A triple CD live album and dual DVD, Rush in Rio, was released in late October 2003. It is a full concert performance on the last night of their Vapor Trails tour, recorded November 23, 2002, at Maracanã Stadium, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The audience present represented the second largest crowd that Rush has ever played in front of (40,000 persons), the largest being the previous night in São Paulo to a capacity of 60,000. The DVD which accompanied it won the 2004 Juno for best music DVD recognizing the artist, director and producer. Also, Neil Peart's drum solo, "O Baterista", was nominated for the Grammy of Best Rock Instrumental Performance, but lost to Brian Wilson's "Mrs. O'Leary's Cow".
To celebrate their 30th anniversary, in June 2004, Rush released Feedback, a studio EP featuring eight covers of such artists as Cream, The Who, and The Yardbirds, bands which the members of Rush cite as inspiration around the time of their inception. This marked the first official studio release since their first single, on which the band covered the music of other artists. In stark contrast to Vapor Trails, the entire process of recording and mixing Feedback took only a few weeks to finish. The band has been quoted as saying that the project had a very spontaneous feel to it, and that it was very exciting to work on. Several songs, including "Summertime Blues", "Crossroads", and "The Seeker" were played on modern and classic rock radio stations across North America, introducing Rush to some new audiences. That same summer, Rush again hit the road for a very successful 30th Anniversary Tour, playing dates in the United States, Canada, the UK, Germany, Italy, Sweden, the Czech Republic, and the Netherlands. On September 24, 2004 a Frankfurt, Germany concert was recorded for DVD (titled R30: Live in Frankfurt), which was released November 22, 2005.
Rush Replay X 3 is a live DVD by Rush, released on June 13, 2006. It consists of three vintage VHS videos of the Exit...Stage Left (1981), Grace Under Pressure Tour (1985), and A Show of Hands (1988) concerts filmed in the 1980s. For this release, each one was remixed in 5.1 surround sound by Lifeson. It also includes a previously unreleased CD audio version of the Grace Under Pressure tour video (1984), and a set of reprinted tour books for each concert. Rush Replay X 3 debuted at #1 on the Billboard Music Video charts, marking the third consecutive time a Rush DVD has topped the music video charts.
Rush's 18th full-length studio album, Snakes & Arrows, was released on May 1, 2007, followed by the intercontinental tour. The second leg began in San Juan, Puerto Rico on April 11, and ended on July 24, 2008 in Indianapolis, USA. The live release, Snakes & Arrows Live, is a two disc recording of performances in the Netherlands during the first leg of the tour.
Following the band's tour, the band announced that they would be taking a break, with the possibility of getting together in the Fall of 2009. On April 8, 2010 both the official Rush website and PR Newswire announced that the band would embark on the Rush Time Machine Tour. The tour began on June 29 in Albuquerque, New Mexico and ran until July 2, 2011, finishing up in George, Washington. The tour featured the album Moving Pictures played in its entirety, as well as the single "Caravan" and its B-side "BU2B". These songs were released as a preview to the band's studio album, Clockwork Angels. The "Caravan" single was announced May 25, 2010 and was released June 1 to radio stations and made available for digital download. On June 12, 2012, Rush released their latest studio album, Clockwork Angels. The Clockwork Angels Tour began on September 7, 2012 in Manchester, New Hampshire and ended on August 4, 2013 in Kansas City, Missouri. On November 15, 2012 it was announced on their official website that the shows in Phoenix and Dallas would be filmed. The resulting Clockwork Angels Tour CD/DVD/Blu-ray was released November 19, 2013.
- Alex Lifeson – guitars (six string, twelve string, acoustic, electric and classical), mandolin, mandola, bouzouki, backing vocals, bass and synthesizer pedals, keyboards (August 1968–present)
- Geddy Lee – guitars (bass, acoustic and electric), lead vocals, keyboards, mellotron, bass and synthesizer pedals (September 1968–May 1969, July 1969–present)
- Neil Peart – drums, electronic and acoustic percussion (July 1974–present)
- John Rutsey – drums, cymbals, acoustic percussion, backing vocals (August 1968–July 1974; died 2008)
- Jeff Jones – bass guitar, lead vocals (August 1968–September 1968)
- Lindy Young – keyboards, guitars, lead and backing vocals, drums, harmonica (January 1969–July 1969)
- Joe Perna – bass guitar, lead vocals (May 1969–July 1969)
- Mitchel Bossi – rhythm guitar, backing vocals (February 1971–May 1971)
- Gerry Fielding – drums (July 1974)
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