Geddy Lee Recalls Neil Peart’s ‘Happiness’ About His Retirement From Rush

In a new interview with Craig Charles of BBC Radio 6 Music, Lee recalled the contrasting emotions at their last concert. Regarding the band’s dynamics, Lee said that Peart’s retirement in 2015 was a hard reality for him and guitarist Alex Lifeson to accept. Despite Lifeson’s health issues, both members wanted to continue touring. But they had to respect Peart’s decision to limit the tour. At their last concert in 2015, Peart was happy about his retirement and the future with his family, while Lee and Lifeson felt discouraged, aware that this could be the end of the band. On the matter, Lee said:

“[Neil] was having a few health problems of his own in a different way. And I think that sealed the deal for him. And so at the very last gig, we were quite divergent in our moods. There was a dressing room that Neil was in that was ebullient and happy that he was about to retire and enter this other phase of his life with his wife and his young daughter. And then you had Alex and my dressing room where we were kind of down in the dumps because we knew this could be the very end of our band. So it was conflicting emotions during that period of time. And, of course, it was only a year later that [Neil] was diagnosed with glioblastoma brain cancer. And, of course, none of that mattered anymore. That was a moot point then.”

Lifeson Couldn’t Play Guitar After Neil Peart’s Death

In 2020, after Peart’s death, Alex Lifeson told the WFAN Network Show how he felt at the time. He explained that not only had he played very little guitar since Peart’s death, but that he no longer felt inspired or motivated to make new music or perform again. He said:

“I didn’t really play for about a year. Every time I pick up a guitar (then) I just aimlessly, kind of mess around with it and put it down after 10 minutes. Normally, I would pick up a guitar and I would play for a couple of hours without even being aware that I’m spending that much time”

Lifeson ended his remarks in a way that will upset Rush fans. He said:

“I don’t know if the motivation is there for us to really do anything now. We’re certainly proud of our track record, and we still love music. But it’s different now.”

We saw them on stage again afterwards. But what Lifeson felt at that time was noteworthy.

Geddy Lee On Peart’s Last Years

Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson had different ways of dealing with the bad news that preceded Neil Peart’s death. Lee spoke on House of Strombo Show about the challenges he and Lifeson faced in dealing with Peart’s illness. He said:

“What his family had to live through was really difficult. So it was a lot of back-and-forth. And when you’re in that state, it’s very hard to function normally, because you can’t talk to anybody about it, ’cause no one’s supposed to know. And so people hear rumblings and they bring things up to you, and you deflect it. And so that feels, on one hand, it feels dishonest, but on the other hand you’re being loyal to your friend. So fuck the dishonesty part. That wins.”

Lee described how he and Alex coped with grief in different ways. He said:

“I’d say Al and I have different ways of dealing with that. Al threw himself into little projects and bigger projects and he kept working throughout the whole thing, and that was a real tonic for him. And I can relate to that, ’cause when we went through our first set of tragedies with Neil, back when he lost his wife and daughter, I did that — I threw myself into my solo album, and it saved me in many ways; it fed me, let’s put it like that. And so for myself, I turned to writing and I turned to book writing, and that was a way for me to — not compete with that moment and those feelings, but a way to take stock and recharge my batteries in a different way.”

Rush did not play any concerts after 2015 and disbanded in 2018.