How Geddy Lee Decided To Play Bass In A Rock Trio

Rush icon Geddy Lee is widely known for his incredibly versatile musicianship as he plays the bass, handles the keyboard, and sings on stage simultaneously. He has influenced a generation of young artists with his distinctive and highly technical bass guitar playing. Lee’s deep connection to his instrument and his complex and melodic bass lines massively contributed to Rush to create a unique sound.

His success story with Rush began in 1968 when he formed the band with Alex Lifeson, Jeff Jones, and John Rutsey. After several lineup changes during this time, Rush arrived at its classic power trio with the addition of Neil Peart in 1974. Geddy Lee produced successful albums with Rush and developed his own characteristic bass playing style, but he also had the early influences that helped him achieve it.

Which Song Influenced Geddy Lee To Play Bass?

Geddy Lee’s interest in music started at around ten years old. He would constantly play music during his early school years. He received his first acoustic guitar at the age of 14. Besides the guitar, he played other instruments like drums, trumpet, and clarinet at school. He began listening to popular rock groups of the period and was greatly influenced by their sounds.

Lee’s early influences included Cream’s Jack Bruce, The Who’s John Entwistle, Jeff Beck, Paul McCartney, Chris Squire, and James Jamerson. During an interview with Rolling Stone in 2019, the bassist revealed that Jack Bruce was such a great inspiration in his life that he even influenced his decision to become a bass player when he saw Bruce’s performance in Cream’s ‘Crossroads.’

Geddy Lee listed ‘Crossroads’ among his five favorite songs with distinctive bass parts. When he saw Jack Bruce perform this song live during a concert with his Gibson EB3, he decided that he wanted to play bass in a rock trio just like Cream, which consisted of Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker along with Bruce. Considering Rush’s future success, it is evident that the bassist was very right about his decision to perform with a power trio.

In Geddy Lee’s words, the vast influence Cream’s ‘Crossroads’ had on him:

“This is a classic and hugely influential rock/blues jam. Having seen Jack Bruce roam wildly up and down the neck of his Gibson EB3 in concert, I can testify that it not only made me want to play bass but play bass in a rock trio. And the other two guys in Cream weren’t so bad either.”

You can listen to the live version of ‘Crossroads’ below.