Having a headache? Well, you are not the only one, the six time winner of “Best Rock Bass” award– Geddy Lee is also suffering from one or so suggests his solo album named My Favourite Headache. Gary Lee Weinrib born on July 29, 1953 in Toronto became the lead vocalist, bassist and keyboardist for the Canadian band Rush. Swapping the original bassist and frontman Jeff Jones, Lee joined Rush at the request of his childhood friend Alex Lifeson. Taking up bass as a teenager and influenced by the likes of the Who’s John Entwistle, Cream’s Jack Bruce, and Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones, Lee hooked up with guitarist Alex Lifeson and drummer John Rutsey to form the hard rocking trio Rush. Early on, they were highly derivative of blues rock/Led Zeppelin but eventually the band found success and fortune as a progressive hard rock band.
With his weapon of choice – a Fender Jazz Bass ’72 with blonde neck and a customized bridge Geddy Lee helped Rush cruise along throughout the ’90s issuing successful albums and playing sold-out arena tours worldwide, until the band went on indefinite break in 1997. But Lee is not a person who would give up easily, he fought like a lone knight and issued his first ever solo album in 2000 – My Favourite Headache. It was his best-selling album till date and the title track peaked at number 52 on the Billboard 200.
Apart from his primary Fender Jazz Bass Guitar which he got for only$200(Fender also makes a Geddy Model Bass) his setup also includes Rickenbacker 4001 and 4005-12 bass guitar, Fender American Vintage ’62 Jazz Bass guitar (according to Fender website), Steinberger bass(in 1984), Wal bass guitars(from 1985 to 1992), Hagstrom bass(long time back), 1969 Fender Precision bass guitar which he traded the Hagstrom, Fender Jaco Pastorius fretless replica bass (for Malignant Narcissism on Snakes and Arrows).
He used the Rotosound Swing Bass Round-wound strings since 1972 and also used Superwound Funkmaster strings and the Labella Flat-wound strings for a few years.
He also used multiple amplifiers and cabinets throughout the years. He used the Orange AD200 bass head with an OBC410 4×10” bass cabinet – Both were orange coloured (2010), Sunn 2000-s head, Ampeg SVT head and V-4B cabs, Ashly preamps and BGW power amps (were run in stereo with his 4001 bass), Gallien-Krueger amps (1991-1992), Trace Elliot amps, Fender Bassman 100T (according to Fender site) and Traynor Amps.
Since 2002, Lee started using DI (or Direct Boxes) units instead of traditional bass amplifiers, which enables the bass guitars to be connected directly to the audio engineer’s main mixer. He also started using in-ear monitors around the same time. His DIs include Tech 21 SansAmp RBI (for live and recording) and Avalon U5 preamp/DI (for recording).
Since he was also an avid Keyboardist, he used an array of Keyboards and Synthesizers throughout his career. They include Oberheim (Eight-voice, OB-1, OB-X, and OB-Xa), PPG (Wave 2.2 and 2.3), Roland (Jupiter 8, D-50, and XV-5080), Moog (Minimoog, Tauras Bass Pedals, Moog Little Phatty), Yamaha DX7, Roland XV 5080 (2002 and 2004), Yamaha KX76, Korg MPK-130 and land PK-5.
He also uses an Amp Farm plugin for his guitar. For his future endeavours Lee is looking to add a Rickenbacker 4000 with single pickup to his set up as he had always used a double pick up and would like to experiment with this guitar after falling in love with it when he witnessed it as part of a Paul Allen setup for the Experience Music Project at the music museum in Seattle.
He has been using Demeter tube pre-amps and he also uses a little Neumann, a unidirectional mic. He puts that through an Uri 1176 compressor. He has been recently trying to gather up older compressors and older pieces of gear. Due to his affinity towards old stuff he likes to run through some really warm tube equipment. Uri LA2s, LA4s, 1176s, Neve pre-amps – these are the kind of things which have become invaluable to a digital recording studio.
Lee’s work was not restricted to Rush. Apart from giving guest performances in other bands and bringing out his own solo album, he actively produced for various other bands like Rocket Science, the debut (and only) album from Toronto new wave band Boys Brigade. On the 1985 album We Are the World, by humanitarian consortium USA for Africa, Lee recorded guest vocals for the song “Tears Are Not Enough”. Apart from band contributions, Lee sang the Canadian National Anthem in front of a full crowd at Baltimore’s Camden Yards for the 1993 All-Star Game.Lee also plays bass on Canadian rock band I Mother Earth’s track “Good For Sule”, which is featured on the group’s album “Blue Green Orange”, released in 1999. In 2013, Lee also made a brief cameo appearance as himself in the How I Met Your Mother eighth season episode “P.S. I Love You”.
As we are all aware, that bass players usually don’t get the limelight as compared to the lead vocalists and the lead guitarists or for that matter the drummers, but with hard work and strong determination and also a god gifted uniqueness, Geddy Lee was one of those very few accomplished bass guitarists who has made it big and became a common name in the music fraternity. Geddy Lee has won numerous awards throughout his career including a place in the Bass Hall of Fame (Guitar Player Magazine) and his influence on rock bass can be heard in the playing of such wide-ranging disciples as Primus’ Les Claypool, Dream Theater’s John Myung, and Metallica’s Cliff Burton.
On May14 th, 2002 Rush released their 17th album release Vapor Trails and they also performed worldwide tours. Their latest tour was Clockwork Angels celebrating their 19th album release June 12, 2012. They launched a tour in 2013 where they covered numerous cities in both North America and Europe. Geddy Lee continues to be respected and cherished as one of the best bass guitarists and a person who influenced and motivated many others.
“All of us get lost in the darkness, dreamers learn to steer by the stars.” – Geddy Lee