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Original Rush drummer John Rutsey is dead at 55.
May 18, 2008 9:17 PM   Subscribe

Original Rush drummer is John Rutsey dead at 55. Rush was one of the most successful prog rock acts of the 70s and 80s. Much of this success can be attributed to Neil Peart, whose airy, transcendent lyrics and virtuoso drumming in large part defined the band. But there was another drummer--more in the heavy style of John Bonham--who gripped the rhythmic helm on their first album: one John Rutsey. Mr Rutsey left the band early after a diagnosis of diabetes. This month he succumbed to a heart attack, a common complication. Unfortunately, a discursive look at youtube revealed no live footage of Mr Rutsey in action. Here is a pic from his heyday.
posted by zorro astor (22 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
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posted by spish at 10:05 PM on May 18, 2008


I'm as big a fan of "Finding My Way" as anyone else, but listening to "2112" with Neil Peart for the first time was a real revelation.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:34 PM on May 18, 2008


Caught the Irvine, CA show the night Rutsey died. I don't know if they had been informed before they hit the stage, but I remember thinking that Geddy sounded a little ragged during "Limelight."

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posted by fairytale of los angeles at 10:58 PM on May 18, 2008


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The music "business" is not a good way to make a living.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:06 PM on May 18, 2008


Yeah, pre-Peart they were basically a Canadian version of Zeppelin with slightly more interesting music. Say what you will about Peart's often goofy Objectivism-influenced lyrics, but without him they probably wouldn't have become what they did. His crazy-time-signature drumming and fantasy/scifi influenced lyrics were the impetus for them to become more experimental and adventurous in their music.

Not to dismiss Rutsey, because he was a great, solid drummer, but they didn't really become Rush until after he left.
posted by DecemberBoy at 11:37 PM on May 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Here's a cool fact about Rush while we're on the subject: Geddy Lee's mother is a Holocaust survivor, and he contributed the line "are we the last ones left alive, are we the only human beings to survive?" to "Red Sector A" from stories she told him about how people in the camps believed that the war must have caused the collapse of civilization for this to be happening to them.
posted by DecemberBoy at 11:52 PM on May 18, 2008


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They call me the workin' man, that's what I am
posted by jtron at 12:11 AM on May 19, 2008


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posted by Smart Dalek at 3:58 AM on May 19, 2008


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posted by arimathea at 4:56 AM on May 19, 2008


I just saw RUSH in the N.O. arena last month - they were awesome. 1st a 14 song set, then a small break, then a 13 song set and a 3 song encore. It was well worth the money.

R.I.P. Rutsey.
posted by winks007 at 5:00 AM on May 19, 2008


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posted by spoobnooble at 6:02 AM on May 19, 2008


Even when I was going through my "I hate classic rock" phase, I would still listen to Rush's first album from time to time. It's really great straight ahead rock n roll.
posted by NoMich at 6:03 AM on May 19, 2008


Here's a cool fact about Rush while we're on the subject: Geddy Lee's mother is a Holocaust survivor,

I believe that was his grandmother actually, she also apparently had difficulty pronouncing Lee's given name-Gary-thus resulting in his nickname. As for Rutsey, 'In The Mood' is a killer tune. RIP, skinpounder.
posted by jonmc at 6:22 AM on May 19, 2008


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posted by LordSludge at 6:35 AM on May 19, 2008 [3 favorites]


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posted by a3matrix at 7:55 AM on May 19, 2008


I believe that was his grandmother actually

No, it was his mother.
posted by svenx at 9:18 AM on May 19, 2008


Silver lining: I was inspired by this FPP to research Rush a little bit.

Ah, so that's the name of the "other guy"... Alex Lifeson!

I feel better now that I no longer will refer to the band members as "Geddy, Neil Pert, and the other guy".

Anyway...


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posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 10:28 AM on May 19, 2008



a discursive look at youtube


You mean 'cursory.'
posted by GeorgeBickham at 12:50 PM on May 19, 2008


I feel better now that I no longer will refer to the band members as "Geddy, Neil Pert, and the other guy".

Yeah, I was in the same boat for a long time. It's a shame that Lifeson, who really is a great guitarist, is kind of forgotten behind the iconic Lee and Peart. At any rate I'll be catching the last show of their current tour in July, glad to hear they've still got it.
posted by Who_Am_I at 1:17 PM on May 19, 2008


This is such a huge bummer. I always wondered what Rutsey was up to and whether he played in any bands after the first Rush album. Hearing this today, I couldn't help thinking of the Victoria Day-themed lyrics of "Lakeside Park". Gotta mention the great cowbell break in "Working Man" when it comes to Rutsey too, a particularly rockin' moment on a very rockin' album.

RIP.
posted by stinkycheese at 3:46 PM on May 19, 2008


Yeah, I was in the same boat for a long time. It's a shame that Lifeson, who really is a great guitarist, is kind of forgotten behind the iconic Lee and Peart.

Not to their fans, of which there are lots and of which I'm one. Anyone who even likes them enough to buy one or two of their records would know who Lifeson is and that he and Geddy write all the music for Peart to put lyrics and a beat to. You do have a point, though, and there's a reason for it: Peart is arguably the greatest rock drummer to ever live. Lee is one of the greatest bass players of all time and inspired a generation of kids to pick up the bass (me included). Lifeson... well, he's a really great guitarist, but there are so many other really great guitarists that he doesn't get mentioned as much.
posted by DecemberBoy at 4:09 PM on May 19, 2008


Yeah, I was in the same boat for a long time. It's a shame that Lifeson, who really is a great guitarist, is kind of forgotten behind the iconic Lee and Peart.

Hunh? Lifeson is practically a Canadian icon. I suppose part of being a Canadian kid in the 80s was collecting and listening to every single Rush album, so naturally Alex Lifeson would never be known as "the other guy." Never never never never.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:53 PM on May 19, 2008


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