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Heavy Load: Geddy Lee

Geddy Lee on childhood, his ‘unusual’ singing voice, drinking Panther Piss and owning 5,000 bottles of wine.

Born in Willowdale, a suburb of Toronto, 62 years ago, Geddy Lee has been a member of Rush for almost half a century, contributing bass, keyboards and those often alarmingly high vocals.

On the day we meet him, the apparent retirement of the group’s drummer, Neil Peart, goes viral, and Lee is forced to clarify once again that Peart no longer wishes to tour. But he’s aware that Rush cannot go on forever.

You were born Gary Lee Weinrib. How did Gary become Geddy?

My mum has a thick Polish accent. When I was twelve a friend often came to the house. He thought she was saying ‘Geddy’ but it was how she pronounced her Rs. My friend said: “I think Geddy is cooler than Gary. I’m gonna call you that from now on,” and it stuck.

How would you describe your childhood?

It was fairly dull. I was a quiet and nerdy kid. My dad passed away when I was twelve and I started running around with a bad crowd that included a fellow named Alex Lifeson. He introduced me to marijuana and we started playing in a rock band together. It all went downhill from there.

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