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Rush Guitarist Alex Lifeson Looks Back on Tough Times

Alex Lifeson
Ethan Miller, Getty Images

Canadian rockers Rush have a lot to celebrate this year: 45 years of playing music together, a current tour that’s selling out arenas all over North America and of course, their recent induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But it hasn’t always been easy, as guitarist Alex Lifeson admits in a new interview.

Reflecting on this incredible journey in a conversation with Red Hot Chili Peppers and Chickenfoot drummer Chad Smith, Lifeson openly acknowledges the folks that helped move them one step further forward in their early days — such as original drummer John Rutsey, who left the band in 1974 citing health issues.

“He was self-conscious about [his] diabetes,” Lifeson says. “He worried about touring, going away, how he would store his insulin and those sort of things. I think when it came down to it, he had a very rough year before we got our American deal…and went on tour.”

The conversation with Smith — released in multiple parts as a podcast through MusicRadar — is a loose, freewheeling one that touches on everything from Lifeson’s interest in flying airplanes and the HOF induction ceremony that included appearances from Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins of Foo Fighters. But the most compelling moments come when Lifeson opens up about drummer Neil Peart‘s struggles following the death of his wife and daughter.

“It was a very difficult time,” Lifeson remembers. “I think he recognized that he’d gone through a terrible, difficult period where he didn’t play. There was a good reason why he couldn’t do it…and it was a long, hard climb to get back up. That doesn’t account for all the turmoil that you’re feeling, and this horrific experience that he went through. How do you eliminate, or at least dilute that? We were there all along for him.”

Next: The Top 10 Alex Lifeson Rush Songs

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