Primus’ Les Claypool Says He Played Rush’s ‘YYZ’ Wrong Until Geddy Lee Taught Him

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Primus frontman Les Claypool recently spoke to MusicRadar and reflected on the connection between Primus and Rush that goes back many years. He then recalled his memory of Geddy Lee when he taught him how to play the popular Rush song entitled ‘YYZ.’

Rush and Primus have been on good terms since the two bands came together for the first time when Primus opened for Rush in their ‘Roll The Bones Tour’ in 1991. It was an unforgettable experience for the Primus members as Rush has always been one of their biggest influences. This first encounter was just the beginning of a long-term connection between the two sides.

Moreover, Rush has been such an influence on Primus that they have launched ‘A Tribute To Kings‘ tour, in which they’ve performed Rush’s 1977 album named ‘A Farewell to Kings’ in its entirety. The first leg of the tour was initially supposed to begin in 2020. However, it had to be postponed twice due to Primus’ other occupations and the pandemic. The first leg finally took place this past summer, and now Primus has been preparing themselves for the tour’s second leg.

While talking about the connection between Rush and Primus during an interview, Les Claypool recalled his request from Geddy Lee when he wanted to interview him for his book called ‘Geddy Lee’s Big Beautiful Book of Bass.’ Claypool wanted Lee to teach him how to play ‘YYZ’ in exchange for the interview. Lee showed him how to play, and Claypool realized that he had been playing it wrong all those years. He played with the right notes but not precisely the way Lee usually does.

Here is how Les Claypool realized he had been playing the song wrong:

“When he came to my house to interview me for that book, I said, ‘Okay, I’ll do the interview but the deal is you have to show me the proper way to play ‘YYZ,’ and he did. And I had been playing it wrong all these years. You’d sit with Geddy, and just the way he phrases things, the way he fingers things… It’s like, ‘Oh my God! It’s Geddy Lee.’ Nobody does it like that.

Like, I was playing the right notes but I was playing them totally different from how he does it, and that’s what makes him Geddy Lee. It’s like what makes Hendrix sound like Hendrix; it’s how he approaches the instrument, not necessarily the buttons he pushes and the things he stomps on.”

It is apparent from his statements that Les Claypool has massive admiration for Geddy Lee. Apparently, he was amazed when Lee started to play ‘YYZ’ to teach him. Claypool praised Lee’s exceptional playing skills by saying that no one can copy him, which may be one of the reasons he couldn’t play the song like the musician.