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Rush Guitarist Alex Lifeson Shares Guitar Inspirations + Band Beginnings

Kevin Winter, Getty Images

Guitar World recently pulled from their archive an interview with Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson. The guitarist talked about when he got into playing guitar and what his first guitar was. He also discussed Rush’s first show and his favorite Rush concert.

The legendary rock guitarist got his first guitar when he was only 12 years old. His parents got him a $25 Kent steel-string acoustic guitar after he played his brother-in-law’s guitar and liked it. His parents later bought him a $59 Corona electric guitar, which is still in his mother’s possession.

Lifeson says he found inspiration for playing his new guitar from bands like the Beach Boys, the Searchers, and the Dave Clark Five. Then, he said, artists like Jimi Hendrix and Pete Townshend came along. As Lifeson’s musical taste broadened, so did his interest in playing guitar. “The more I got into playing guitar, the more I enjoyed music and the broader my listening became,” said Lifeson. “The instrument itself became important to me, and I started messing around with classical guitar and took classical lessons.”

The Rush guitarist said the first song he ever learned to play was The Rolling Stones‘ ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.’ “The songs starts off with the three most important chords — E, A and D — and I learned them,” he said. “I learned the lead line, as well.”

Lifeson also recalled Rush’s first show in September 1968 in a church basement. They played covers for about 20 people and were paid $10. “Then we went to a nearby deli and ordered Cokes and French fries, and started planning our future.” he said. The axeman didn’t say in the interview, however, if the three of them planned on playing for 60,000 people in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 2002. He counts that as his favorite Rush show ever.

He closed the interview by talking about his love of playing guitar. “When I sit down and play guitar, I melt into the instrument,” said Lifeson. “I can play for hours by myself. Playing guitar has given me such a wonderful life, and I’m grateful for it.”

To read the full Guitar World piece, click here.

Next: Rush Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction

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