On March 1, 1974, "Rush" released its eponymous debut album.
The story of this album begins a few years earlier, in 1968, in the "Willowdale" neighborhood of Toronto Canada, when a young guitarist named Alexandar Zivojinovich, a drummer named John Rutsey who lives on the same street, and a bassist-singer named Jeff Jones formed the band 'Projection". The same Jeff Jones will be replaced after about a month, before the band's second show, by Gary Lee Weinrib. He was Alexandar Zivojinovich's neighbor, who also attended the same school with him.
Alexander Zivojinovich chooses the stage name, Alex Lifeson. The last name chosen is actually a translation of his original last name Zivojinovich, which means "Son of Life". Gary Lee Weinrib chooses his stage name, Geddy Lee. Geddy was Gary's nickname, since his mother could not pronounce the letter R, and in her accent, it sounded like D (Geddy instead of Gerry).
The three immediately change the band's name to "Rush", following the advice of drummer John Rutsey's brother.
They made their first appearance in September 1968, in the basement of a church in the suburbs of Toronto. Geddy and Alex were then only 15 years old. But slowly the band started to gain confidence and manage to perform in local pubs, events, and school parties.
In 1971, the band signed a recording contract with Ray Daniels, who will serve as the band's manager until its last day. That same year they got lucky, when the alcohol law in Toronto was changed and the drinking age was lowered to 18, allowing them to perform in pubs without a problem. The Hard-Blues Rock style that the band adopts catches well and soon they found themselves performing six days a week, which helped them a lot become professional. In between, Alex, Geddy, and John also manage to write original material.
At the same time, the band's manager - Ray Daniels - is trying to get them a recording contract. He fails and eventually decides to set up a private label called "Moon Records", through which the band will be able to release their debut album.
To save money, the band started recording late at night, when the studios were empty and the rates were cheaper. The band gathers at "Eastern Sound Studios" in Toronto, in March 1973 and records four songs, with the help of producer Dave Stock. Two of them, a cover version of Buddy Holly's song "Not Fade Away" and an original song written by Geddy and John called: "You Can't Fight It", will be released as the band's first single, back in 1973, with the original song being released as b-side.
The two songs were not included on the debut album, which would be released a year later, but the other two songs recorded in the same session "In the Mood" and "Take a Friend" will eventually find their way to the album.
It is interesting to note that "In the Mood" is the only song on the album written solely by Geddy Lee. Lee would later point out that this is the first song written for the band that he and Alex really liked. Alex added that Gaddy came to his house one day and said, I want to play you a song and he just played it from beginning to end. He claims it was about two years even three before they started recording the album.
The single and B-Side released in 1973 were not a success. The band was also not happy with the results in terms of sound and production, so they decided to move to "Toronto Sound Studios", leave producer Dave Stock and produce the album themselves.
Although the recordings in both studios were made with outdated 8-channel equipment, the band managed to improve the production on songs recorded in the second session to their satisfaction, especially "Finding My Way", "Need Some Love" and "Here Again".
This album gives us a one-of-a-time glimpse of "Rush" as it will no longer be heard on future albums. Rough, immature, wild. The musical material on the album ranges from energetic Hard Rock reminiscent of "Zeppelin" - as in the song "What You're Doing", through "Cream's" Blues Rock in "Take A Friend" to Heavy Metallic riffs reminiscent of "Black Sabbath" as in the song "Working Man".
There are some amazing tracks on this album, that are just rare in their beauty and innocence. Tracks you will not hear in any other album of the band, which will continue to evolve and change its musical style through the years.
The album was initially released in a meager amount of 3,500 copies, through the band's private label, but was only a local success. Although the band received good reviews it failed to get the record companies' attention, until the following thing happened:
Radio broadcaster Donna Halper of the "WMMS" radio station in Cleveland Ohio, began playing the song "Working Man" regularly on her show. Every time Donna would play the song the station would receive many calls from people who wanted to know details about the band and where they can purchase the album. As a result, copies of the album were transferred from Canada to the United States, for sale in Cleveland, Ohio.
It was at this point that the band recruited - Terry Brown, who will serve as their permanent producer until 1982. He received $ 9,000 from director Ray Daniels for editing a remix album for the "Mercury Records" reissue.
Following the success in the US, the band was scheduled for many performances outside of Canada, as well.
Shortly after releasing the album Geddy and Alex will audition a skinny, tall guy with shorts and a short haircut that seems unrelated to the Rock style they played. The guy named Neil Peart got out of an old, battered car and pulled out a tiny set of drums that looked to Geddy and Alex like a toy system. But, when Neil Peart started playing, the jaws of the two musicians opened wide and they immediately accepted him into the band.
The exact date that Neil Peart joined the band was 29/7/1974. Peart was then 21. It was exactly two weeks before the band's tour in the US. His first performance with them was in Pittsburgh on August 14, 1974, where they served as a warm-up for "Uriah Heep", in front of 11,000 people. Read more about Neil's joining here: The Day Neil Peart Joined Rush
Accepting Peart to the band brought not only an excellent drummer but an intelligent and sharp guy who also knew how to write unconventional lyrics. Therefore, it was decided that Peart would also be responsible for the lyrics, with Geddy and Alex being responsible for the music.
The rest is history ....