Geddy Lee formed a new band when Rush fired him in their early days – and he was doing better than they were when he was invited to rejoin.
But he believes the experience was a blessing in disguise because it set them on the road to becoming the band they are today.
The bassist and singer was dismissed long before the Canadian outfit made their first recording. It happened even before they’d become a three-piece. The band’s new manager, Ray Danniels, who is still with them, carried out both the firing and re-hiring.
He says: “That was pre-history really. We hadn’t recorded yet and were still in our embryonic stage, and Ray came along. He had no real reputation yet as a manager or anything. He was just kind of an agent working in Toronto.
“So he started directing the band and he just thought I wasn’t suitable, for whatever reasons he had. I don’t know whether it was the way I looked, or my religious background – who the fuck knew?
“Anyway, he influenced them and they went along with it, Alex Lifeson and John Rutsey, and I was out. They kicked me out.”
Rush were still laying the foundations of the band they’d become playing local drop-in centres with Lifeson, Rutsey and Lee’s brother-in-law Lindy Young on piano. After being dropped Lee formed a new outfit and joined them on the low-end live circuit.
“I started a blues band,” he says, “and I was, frankly speaking, doing better than they were. Then I got a call from John and he said, ‘Can we get together?’ Basically, ‘Can you come back? We’re sorry.’
“They had to go through whatever they went through. We tried it again and that’s really when the band started. We became this three-piece and we were really going in the same direction.”