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September 30th, 2010
08:33 AM ET

Rush keeps rocking after 40 years

It was 30 years ago – as a young journalist – that I had a chance to sit down with Rush to talk about their new album (yes, remember those?) Permanent Waves. It was the breakout album for the band as far as commercial success went, spinning off the hit song The Spirit of Radio. A year later, Rush released the follow up LP (yes, still talking vinyl here) Moving Pictures, which became their biggest selling album ever.

Now, three decades of recording and touring later, Rush is still as vital as ever – selling out their cross-country Time Machine tour and interestingly, playing the classic Moving Pictures album in its entirety during the show.

Not bad for three soft-spoken Canadians who are pushing ever-closer to that significant milestone of 60 years old and show no signs of slowing down.

So – what’s the magic that has held them together for so long? I had an exclusive opportunity to sit down and talk with them in Atlanta, and in a rock and roll fantasy come true, join them on stage during sound check for a rendition of Limelight.

Wow – what a moment for a frustrated guitar player..!

Filed under: You Have to See This
soundoff (52 Responses)
  1. Ryan

    Great show! I think that we sat behind the only 3 people that felt they had to jump and wave their arms through the whole show(Grrrrr) Thanks for having the video screens.

    October 13, 2010 at 9:52 am |
  2. Kevin

    I first saw Rush in 1977, they were supporting the Hemispheres record. They opened for Blue Oyster Cult. I have seen them at least 20 times since. It was THE show to see in the northeast (The Radio City Shows were great)But we knew nothing about them. They talked little to the audience, gave few interviews & were very shy at the ones they did give. Our only saving grace was Neil Peart's short stories in the concert programs (which I have many). In the past 10 years they have released many great DVD's, (Neil's books are a must read) There's a lot of behind the scenes footage & old never seen footage as well. Neil lost his Wife & Daughter in the same year & took 5 years off. But the band is in a true Renaissance. They are a must see whenever you get the chance. This year will include the entire Moving Pictures performance. Great Interview of one of the best bands ever.

    October 5, 2010 at 12:20 am |
  3. Tjarnar Dravenskaya

    Rush is the greatest band ever.... seriously.... and the fact they've kept on doing what they do SO well for so long makes me IMMENSELY happy at times when the rest of the music scene is so dreadful.

    October 4, 2010 at 2:51 pm |
  4. Willa

    Great interview, John!!! These guys are first rate people and musicians. I'm proud to be a fan.

    October 4, 2010 at 1:54 am |
  5. jimmy casanova

    I traveled from orlando to tampa to see rush .i had a vvip pass to sit with the boys and meet and great before and after the show! It was an experiance i will never forget! they are the most down to earth dudes i have ever met! tampa was an awesome show! i hope next year they come to orlando..

    October 4, 2010 at 1:22 am |
  6. Dave-E

    Wonderful interview, John. Very candid and it shows three good friends who truly enjoy making music together. Rush are unquestionably one of the greatest rock bands ever. Their integrity combined with their humility shine through. Rush are fantastic role modesl for any young musician or rock band. Long live Rush!

    October 4, 2010 at 12:59 am |
  7. Johnny Morris

    It was wonderful seeing all the guys sitting down together again. Great interview, but I take exception to John prying into that painful aspect of Neil's life. I realize that a lot of people are simply curious and John was trying to feed that aspect perhaps, but I feel some subjects are best left alone out of respect and kindness, regardless of what certain fans may want to hear. When I heard the subject addressed during the documentary film I immediately became uncomfortable... and the same thing happened watching this interview. Unless it's happened to us, we can't fathom how one must feel when confronted with these kinds of questions. To John's credit, at least he steered away from the subject after Neil uttered his not-so-subtle phrase of displeasure. Rush has been my favorite band for the past 32 years and I look forward to every single interview or nugget of information that comes my way. Being a professional drummer, it should go without saying how I feel about Neil... As much I enjoy hearing Neil talking about...ANYTHING I wouldn't blame him in the least for declining all future interviews

    Johnny Morris
    Richmond, VA

    October 3, 2010 at 12:06 pm |
  8. DSumner

    I can't thank Rush enough for the years of joy and inspiration their music has given me. The first time I heard them is a crystal clear memory; my brother grabbing me saying, "listen to this, " and sitting me down to listen to the drum solo on All the World's a Stage; that was 35 years ago! I was hooked instantly. They taught me that music doesn't have to be experienced passively; it can actually take you somewhere and make you feel something deep down.
    Great interview John (J.D.?). Remember watching that Permanent Waves interview on New Music Magazine. Great playing too; It must have been a total trip to jam with those guys.
    Rush does not need the R'n'R Hall of Fame; The R'n'R Hall of Fame needs Rush.

    October 3, 2010 at 4:40 am |
  9. Danny

    I've been a Rush fan for 32 years, seen them live 20 times, and recently met Alex and Geddy. I've probably seen every video, nearly every article... and this little interview is the best one I've ever seen. It had humor, insight, and even a few uncomfortable moments. But it was sincere and in the end I wanted it to continue. Well done.

    October 3, 2010 at 12:39 am |
  10. MGrant

    Thank you John/CNN for acknowledging the band that has become the soundtrack of my life!!!

    I first heard RUSH in high school ('In the Mood' and then 'Tom Sawyer'), and I have been listening to them ever since! RUSH is one of the few bands that I have no qualms about paying for the CD, the return on investment I get from these guys far exceeds the small price for their album!

    I am so glad to see you guys (Geddy, Alex, Neil) still rocking after all of these years! Your creativity knows no bounds!!!

    Neil's quote from Bob Dylan certainly holds true, RUSH?: You are an inspiration not only to me, but to millions of other living, breathing souls across this planet!!!! Yours is most certainly a meaningful existence!!

    Thank you, thank you, thank you RUSH, and John for sharing this great interview with us!!!!

    MGrant/Tokyo, Japan – Will RUSH ever come to Japan again?..Our fingers are still crossed!!!!

    October 2, 2010 at 10:41 pm |
  11. Nick

    Saw Rush this tour at The Shoreline in the SF Bay Area in August. 22,000, sold-out. People outside the venue begging for tickets. Everyone stood the ENTIRE 3 HOURS! They are without a doubt the greatest collection of rock talent ever assembled in one band. I was working out at the gym at work watching the news on CNN when the Rush interview came on. My jaw dropped to the floor!! What a treat! Thanks so much Mr. Roberts for displaying these true artisans for the masses. It will be a very sad day when they hang it up (fan for 35 years). In my humble opinion, we will never witness their combination of intellect, drive, creativity, integrity, humility, and love of craft ever again.

    Rush rules!

    October 2, 2010 at 12:30 am |
  12. Brent

    Saw Rush last week when they were in Tulsa. They put on a tremendous live show as always. These three guys are the most talented collection of rock and roll musicians on Earth period. Each of them is at the top or near the top of the best in the world in the ability to play their instruments. Other great rock musicians have said so. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is and will be a joke until these guys are inducted alongside the other great bands like the Stones, The Who, Zeppelin, Beatles, and U2. But, really do they want in a place that has inducted Madonna and Michael Jackson and nominated LL Cool J and Donna Summer? Good to great artists, yes, but they do not belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The accolades that should be most satisfying to Rush are the legions of devoted fans that now span generations that love them and eagarly await each new record. Rock on Rush!

    October 1, 2010 at 12:46 am |
  13. Mike R.

    Enjoyed your interview John. Missed the show last weekend here in Houston, finances dictate ticket purchase. Still a huge fan.................

    September 30, 2010 at 11:20 pm |
  14. tankboltz

    Thanks for even thinking to interview Rush. I too am a huge fan since late 70s and was always amazed at how under appreciated they were by radio and idiots like rolling stone mag, yet were so admired and influential on nearly every decent artist. I've seen them twice this tour and they are even better and play w more energy than when I saw them on original Moving Pictures tour in '81. Great Interview and thank you CNN for giving them so much If time. As for R&R Hall of Nothing... with very few exceptions most of the hall of fame recipients should be embarrassed to have entered into that worthless honor which can have no meaning or integrity as long as Rush is excluded. It's like being a NBA hall of fame recipient even though Michael Jordan is refused in. What exactly does it mean without having the very best in it. And I believe Neil is or was a big student of Niche the philosopher. Don't think he ever hid his intellectual pursuits... comment for a prior post.

    September 30, 2010 at 10:51 pm |
  15. parrotthead

    Thanks John for bringing Rush to CNN !! Anyone who has seen Rush live can only be amazed at the vast amount of musicianship on "The lighted stage". I have seen hundreds of concerts from Allman Bros to Blind Faith to Clapton to ZZ top, and there is simply no band with the talent of Rush.
    From this interview, and after seeing BTLS documentary, I have even a higher respect & regard for the boys. They seem like genuine guys, and seem to have a special relationship with one another. Long live Rush !

    Thanks again John- I am jealous !

    September 30, 2010 at 10:40 pm |
  16. Earthshine

    Great interview. As another said, it's a treat when Neil sits in...
    I've been a fan since high school, back when us female fans were far and few between (though not such a bad thing!).
    I first saw them in MA on 9/28/80 for their Moving Pictures Tour. Seeing them in CT for the Time Machine tour in July made it my 10th time, and was just as amazing as the first.
    I plan on taking my daughter to see Rush on their next tour for her first concert experience. One she's guaranteed never to forget.
    Thanks, John ~ from one fan to another!

    September 30, 2010 at 10:09 pm |
  17. Mike A

    Saw the Red Rocks and Houston shows of this tour, and can't believe the energy these guys have. Alex guitar playing at the Houston show was so over the top I thought my head was going to explode. Such a professional group of guys... obvious they have such a following.

    September 30, 2010 at 10:08 pm |
  18. Bob Thornburg

    I've been to the r&r hall of fame. What a disappointment. To prove my point, look at the 2011 nominees. LL Cool J? Bon Jovi? These guys did more for rock & roll than Rush? WOW! Anyone on that committee should their heads in shame. It's obvious that you nothing about music. Great interview John, I'm forever envious of you.

    September 30, 2010 at 10:07 pm |
  19. Jai Es

    When this aired this morning, they mentioned the entire 20 minute interview would be online in afew hours... Well Its 12 hours later.. where is it!!!!!

    September 30, 2010 at 8:44 pm |
  20. Jordan

    Great interview. Who would ever expect to see Rush on CNN?!?! Every tour I see them (and I've seen 'em all for the past 30 years), these guys get better and better. Hall of Fame? It's a joke they have not been inducted, but then again, considering some of the other inductees over the last couple decades, who really cares? I just hope Rush keeps doing what they do for a very long time.

    September 30, 2010 at 7:23 pm |
  21. Vicki

    It's ironic that Rush would be highlighted on CNN and praised for their 40 year of music and yet the Hall of Fame for whatever reason chooses to overlooked them year after year. Beastie Boys . . . come on.

    September 30, 2010 at 6:55 pm |
  22. Jim B

    John-great job. I have wondered over the years just how many aging beat nick Rolling Stone writers does it take to keep Rush out of their little hall of lame?At this point just like with radio air play in the 70s it would now be to their advantage to just put them in for all the extra publicity they would get from finally doing it. Unfortunately ignorance can be cured, but stupidity is forever.

    September 30, 2010 at 6:35 pm |

    They are too cool for the RR HOF. Who wants to be included with the likes of ABBA and Chic?

    Saw them (again) this summer and cannot wait for their 2011 tour...stay healthy boys!!!!!!

    September 30, 2010 at 5:04 pm |
  24. Jeff A.

    Good interview. The show in Atlanta was flawless. Rush seems to get better as they age. Awesome band. Ive been a fan from the begining. Long live RUSH.

    September 30, 2010 at 2:55 pm |
  25. Ernest Reyes

    What a dream come true–I cannot play any instrument, but I know every rush tune by heart–and I would love to get up there and AIR it with them–Great interview–truely RUSH are the greatest musicians EVER!

    Thanx Great White North!

    September 30, 2010 at 2:37 pm |
  26. RLT

    This band being snubbed by the R&R Hall of Fame is an abomintation. R&R in its roots is a rebellion against the establishment. The fitting irony in this story, I hope, would be that when the very establishment (R&R HoF) finally asks Rush to join, they refuse.

    September 30, 2010 at 2:26 pm |
  27. BTH in MD

    Saw them for the first time on the original Moving Pictures tour in 1981 (that JD references) and just saw them a couple of weeks ago in Wash. DC. They are just as amazing now as they were 29 years ago. All three of these guys define what it is to be a PROFESSIONAL rock musician: Always challenging themselves and growing. Thank you CNN for featuring a band that deserves the title of "Rock Legend".

    September 30, 2010 at 2:22 pm |
  28. Fernie

    Great interview! It is refreshing to have a truly great band with intergrity about their music and about themselves finally be interviewed. Rush is the greatest. I have seen them twice on the current tour and they truly pour their all into. They are worth paying to see during these tough economic times.

    September 30, 2010 at 1:43 pm |
  29. Rose R

    WOW, Great Interview. Yes, you are correct, the crowd plays off you, the band and it's a great thing. The Feedback, the Loop! (hey there is a song lyric here .... "feedback, loop" ... just joking 🙂

    Hey, RUSH should be in the Hall of Fame! Come on now.... it's time!! Long overdue!!

    John, lucky you for playing on stage, Limelight, you sounded great! So "Dreams do come true" Don't they?

    I saw RUSH in San Antonio, Texas, 1 week ago today, WOW they were great, as always.....I had floor seat and danced and jumped around the entire time.... singing every song!!! THANK YOU RUSH!!! THANK YOU.

    I've seen them many times since 1985, when I became a true die hard fan!

    Thank you guys (RUSH) for staying together and giving all your fans great music and great shows, all these years!!! I am ooking forward to seeing you again, when you pass thru Texas in 2011 or 2012??

    It goes to prove, that all RUSH has been thru, "Life throws us all curve balls, but we live and learn and push on thru it all" .... Getting stronger as we go along lives path. KEEP ON ROCKING GUYS!!!

    And Thanks to you John for a great interview.... I loved the 1981 Interview, the eye glasses have come a long way 🙂 Smile, Rose 🙂

    September 30, 2010 at 1:08 pm |
  30. Steve

    A great interview! Rush are one of the greatest. Excellent interview and it's great to see Neil w/ Alex and Geddy in a sit down interview. Props to CNN! Can't wait for the Clockwork Angels album in 2011!

    September 30, 2010 at 12:34 pm |
  31. Lisa B

    John- Great interview this morning! Come on Hall of Fame...these guys are great musicians who have sustained their true talents for 40 years and are still selling out venues!!

    Thanks again John!

    September 30, 2010 at 11:45 am |
  32. Andy

    Great interview John...I agree with you and all RUSH fans, they should be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. I have been a RUSH fans since I was 14...and will never stop......

    September 30, 2010 at 11:17 am |
  33. Clay Kelley

    I have been a RUSH fan since 2112, not sure there has been a day since 1975 that I haven't listened to them...even named my company after them. Glad to know that they want to still do this for another ten years!
    Did not know that you were a fan until I saw you on "Beyond tthe Lighted...You are a blessed man; two interviews,jamming with the greatest rock band in the world. Congratulations.

    September 30, 2010 at 11:14 am |
  34. Jared

    Watching CNN this morning in our WCBS-AM newsroom in Manhattan, I was reminded again that Rush has finally made it in the eyes of the masses. Or, maybe it's that enough of the masses have aged into powers of position and continue to seize opportunity to educate the world about the wonders we've learned from Rush. I'm a huge rush fan, as I've been since I was 9 years old around the release of Exit... Stage Left. While i'm a sportscaster in New York and interview local professional icons on a regular basis, I was anything but smooth or composed when I've had the chances to speak with Rush. In late june I was in Los Angeles and was fortunate to get credentialed to see Rush receive their star on the Walk of Fame. But, the journalist in me was nowhere to be found that day. When I spoke with Geddy after the ceremony, I was like "Ralphie" in A Christmas Story, freezing when asked by Santa what he wanted as a gift. I was a bit more coherent speaking with Alex, but, for all the thoughts I've had for the last 20 years about what I'd want to ask Rush about, I struck out and lost myself in rambling conversation. Amazing job by John Roberts keeping cool among his musical idols. And, what a treat to see Rush on CNN. only makes a greater mockery of the Rock N Roll Hall of Shame.

    September 30, 2010 at 11:12 am |
  35. Jesse

    Great interview and nice seeing Neil sitting with them, chatting it up like he used to...At age 11 I discovered Rush and I am now a 26 year old professional musician- they have inspired and will continue to inspire what I do musically for as long as I live. Bravo to the guys; I hope to have half that energy and optimism at age 60!

    September 30, 2010 at 11:03 am |
  36. motherearth

    With bands like Rush and The Moody Blues not included,one has to wonder if the R&R Hall of Fame is worth entering.

    September 30, 2010 at 10:49 am |
  37. motherearth

    I agree Zowie!!

    September 30, 2010 at 10:46 am |
  38. John Foundas

    As a TV News Photojournalist and a Rush fan myself, I would have to say job well done. These three musicians have over the years done such a tremendous job creating and inspiring all of us. I wished John had asked them (or used a clip) about the constant snubbing from the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame. It just doesn't make sense to a lot of us. Even if you are NOT a fan, you have to concede that these chaps are three of the most consummate musicians that have ever strummed, plucked or paradiddled an instrument. Great interview! Nice job snagging Neil for the sit down as well. Lets see the soundcheck video. haha


    September 30, 2010 at 10:38 am |
  39. Mike

    Is this a throw back to the New Music circa 1980? Or Toronto Rocks?

    John/JD – Great interview! Toronto still misses you!

    September 30, 2010 at 10:29 am |
  40. Glen

    Wow, what a show! So nice to see them in Atlanta when it's not sweltering hot. The video intros before each set were hilarious, these guys always reveal hidden talents every time I catch a glimpse of them live. Neil said it – it's about growth, not change, and one's integretity is a strong guide there. Looking forward to their next music project!

    September 30, 2010 at 10:18 am |
  41. John Sachs

    Great Interview with the best band in the world RUSH.

    September 30, 2010 at 10:11 am |
  42. sean carney

    Geddy Lee, "Base player" ???

    wouldn't that be Bass player or bassist?

    September 30, 2010 at 10:05 am |
  43. Jay V.

    Rush is truly a Canadian Treasure – Hall of Fame!

    September 30, 2010 at 9:58 am |
  44. Diane

    I was so blown away when I saw your interview. They really are the worlds best. Please come to Wisconsin!!!

    September 30, 2010 at 9:54 am |
  45. L Stewart

    How husband is traveling to Tampa this weekend to see RUSH with a colleague (he's 44) and our 16 yr old son is so BUMMED that he can't see them. Who knew? Turns out that the teenagers of today still appreciate the classics!

    September 30, 2010 at 9:45 am |
  46. Kat

    Geddy Lee, Base Player......

    September 30, 2010 at 9:25 am |
  47. Kozzmo

    Having watched the interview, I feel almost prescient that I referenced circumstances in the pre-show teaser. The more that things change, the more they stay the same. Neil Peart never really lets on that he is incredible student of philosophy. That argument is as old as man, as first phrased by the pre-socratics. Herclatius argued that the only constant was change. Parmenides argued that the world was constant, and there was no change. Later this was to be combined into the world of perception, and the ideal world by plato, which became the basic understanding for the premise of the world we live in, and that of the Kingdom of God. As time passed, these evolved into two basic schools of though, empericism, and idealism, which kant refered to as apriori and aposteri logic. These in turn have helped to shape our two basic modern philosophies, liberalism, as defined by John Locke, and Conservatism as defined by Burke.

    September 30, 2010 at 9:24 am |
  48. Eric Geater

    Hats off to the boys for a wonderful career of music.

    September 30, 2010 at 9:11 am |
  49. Zowie

    The musicianship, the music, the lyrics, and their demeanor... there is no band that comes even close to the purpose and significance of Rush. They have not let "glittering prizes and endless compromises, shatter the illusion of integrity". Thanks CNN for finally putting someone in the news worth talking about.

    September 30, 2010 at 9:02 am |
  50. Derek

    Fantastic. In my opinion they are the greatest musicians ever. I cannot imagine the feeling of being on stage playing with them. I heard Tom Sawyer for the first time in High School and that led me to become a life long fan.

    September 30, 2010 at 8:59 am |
  51. Debbie

    I'm very inspired by this segment. Life has a way of altering our views and our hair, a-hem, John. Nowadays, society is not so type cast as we age as to what is acceptable(aka cool). I'm 40 and can relate. I am a huge Rush fan and this adds to the admiration. Rock on fellas! PIease fix the glich, I really want to see John on stage playing.

    September 30, 2010 at 8:54 am |
  52. Liana

    JD Roberts!
    Been a fan since Much Music Days! I had the Much Music magazine with you on the cover posted on my wall!! 🙂 Great interview with Rush.
    Wanted to send the interview to my brother however it seems like the interview was shortened. Sent it anyway. Still waiting to see you on stage with them. Any chance of you posting your on stage performance? Would love to see it. Really enjoy seeing you on CNN.
    Great job – you make Canadians proud!!

    September 30, 2010 at 8:49 am |