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The power trio Rush is still Canada's top rock attraction well over three decades after launching their careers playing Cream-like music on the Toronto club circuit. Never a critics darling,comments have ranged from "lyrical pretension" to "musical grandstanding." They've marched on into the 2000s with a newfound strength, following an extended hiatus due to tragic circumstances. The grief and healing process of drummer Neil Peart upon the deaths of his daughter and wife are chronicled in his book Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road. Many fans excitedly agree that Rush's post tragedy Vapor Trails (2002) is one of their strongest efforts in years. 

Rush was formed by keyboardist, bassist and vocalist Geddy Lee (Gary Lee Weinrib), guitarist Alex Lifeson (Alex Zivojinovich) and John Rutsey (drums). In 1973, they recorded a version of Buddy Holly's "Not Fade Away" as their debut release, backed by "You Can't Fight It", for their own label, Moon Records. Despite failing to grab the attention as planned, the band pressed ahead with the recording of a debut album. Still seeking interest from the major labels, the band's live shows kicked up a notch and Rush picked up support gigs with the New York Dolls in Canada and ZZ Top in America.

Mercury Records eventually signed the band and reissued their debut. At this point drummer Neil Peart replaced Rutsey and became the band's chief songwriter. Rush then  did a full tour of the USA for the first time. Rush's music by this point was typified by Lee's oddly high-pitched voice, a tremendously powerful guitar sound, especially in the early years, and a recurrent interest in science fiction and fantasy from the pen of Neil Peart. Later, he would also conceptualize the work of authors such as John Barth, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and John Dos Passos.

This approach reached its zenith in the band's 1976 concept album, 2112, based on the work of novelist/philosopher Ayn Rand, which had as its central theme the concept of individual freedom and will. However, the band's most popular offerings, A Farewell To Kings and Hemispheres, offered a shift from Peart's usual epics. By 1979, Rush were immensely successful worldwide, and the Canadian Government awarded them the title of official Ambassadors of Music.

As the 80s progressed, Rush streamlined their image to become sophisticated, clean-cut, cerebral music-makers. They enjoyed a surprise hit single in 1980 when "The Spirit Of Radio" broke them out of their loyal cult following, and live shows now saw Lifeson and Lee adding keyboards for a fuller sound. 1981's Moving Pictures offered an innovative blend fusion of techno rock and musical craft. Despite a few sluggish subsequent efforts, live shows were still exciting events for  fans, and the powerful Hold Your Fire in 1987 marked a true return to peak form. In 1994, the band agreed to a break for the first time in their career, during which Lifeson worked on his Victor side project. They returned in 1996 with Test For Echo.

Rush will play MGM's Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on July 17, 2004.

© 2004