Alex Lifeson Compares Pete Townshend And Jimi Hendrix’s Influences On His Music


The guitarist and back vocalist of Rush, Alex Lifeson, recently had a conversation with ‘Long & McQuade Musical Instruments’ and discussed his playing style, finding inspirations in his early career as well as touring Canada.

Rush released their last live audio album named ‘R40 Live Tour’ 6 years ago and the performances were filmed at ‘Air Canada Centre’ during their Canada tour. The record is also known as the last one to feature Neil Peart before his retirement.

During the conversation, Alex was asked whether his use of the movable shapes up and down the guitar neck comes from his admiration for The Who’s Pete Townshend. While Alex stated that he learned a lot about playing acoustic guitar from the way Townshend did, he also admitted that he was more influenced by him rather than any other guitarists like Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, and Jimi Hendrix.

The Rush star shared his thoughts saying:

“I think The Who had an enormous influence on us – and Pete Townshend specifically on me.

If I was to select a handful of the great guitar players that influenced me when I was a kid growing up, he was certainly close to the top of that list. I think I learned so much about playing acoustic guitar from the way he did. Those chords, yes, that was definitely an influence, and I think I’d sort of developed that more because of the way Rush worked.

Rush was a very active rhythm section, Geddy Lee and Neil Peart were very active players, and a lot of times the guitar had to hold the fort down, which was a sort of an opposite reaction to what normally happens.

Usually, it’s the guitar that leads everybody else. So that required me to create more tonality and more harmony, more sound to create this bigger foundation for them to move around as they would. So playing those open chords and open strings ringing out, and all of that was all part of that uh desire to create that foundation and a lot of it did come from Pete, I think more so than any of those other players like Hendrix or Clapton or Page did at the time.”

In the same interview, Lifeson was asked whether he tries to improvise and try something new on stage or if he strives to recreate those moments as accurately as possible. The guitarist stated that they have always tried to recreate what they did on a record live and they decide to improvise or not before the show.

You can watch the whole conversation below.