Geddy Lee discusses the most underrated bass player in rock

Geddy Lee

Geddy Lee went deep into almost every aspect of the bass guitar. Lee became one of the greatest masters in rock history from the moment he put his fingers to the strings in Rush. He took inspiration from musicians such as John Entwistle and Chris Squire and infused it with his own special flavour. Lee believed that one legendary rock bassist went unnoticed throughout history, despite his propensity for crafting impenetrable hooks on the low end.

The bass guitar was still regarded as the inferior six-string instrument, though, until Lee assisted in shattering its myth. It took musicians like Lee to redefine the bass player’s position in a trio setting. Paul McCartney and Jack Bruce laid flawless bass lines, filling the record’s bottom, despite other musicians’ abilities.

Lee played unconventional lead guitar lines, defying expectations within his ample sonic space. Apart from the outstanding lead solos on every Rush record by Alex Lifeson, it was increasingly evident that Lee could perform on a par with any four-string guitarist. It lead to enormous progressive exercises like “La Villa Strangiato”.

Even before Lee picked up the bass, he was beginning to hear the more aggressive aspects of rock & roll. Geddy Lee began to draw influence from American artists in the psychedelic scene, including Jefferson Airplane. This influence came after taking in the sounds of blues acts like The Yardbirds.

Originating from the Haight/Ashbury district, Grace Slick guided the group to great triumphs during the Summer of Love. He infused rock with a darker touch on hits like “White Rabbit”. Every time the band performed live, Slick was usually the centre of attention. But, Lee was well-aware of Jack Casady’s low end techniques.

Lee, one of the best 1960s bass players, believed Jack Casady of Jefferson Airplane was often underappreciated. Lee expressed this belief in an interview with Music Radar. Hear him perform live on the album Bless Its Pointed Little Head or in his earlier days. His powerful vocals propelled the group forward. Jack made those early iterations of this band stick out to me among the millions of configurations that Jefferson Aeroplane went through in their history.

It’s not difficult to hear the growl Lee mentioned when listening to the band perform live. The band sounded far more feral than they actually were when Casady was working on the local scene because he always had a certain sound to it. This frequently created distorted sounds that rivalled the guitar.

Lee would take those tonal lessons to heart, dialling in a sound that pushed the bass forward rather than having it fade into the background. Even as other heavy acts like Blue Cheer were starting to emerge on the scene. Although Lee is the son of progressive rock legends, Rush might have had a different sound. This possibility arises if Casady hadn’t altered the bass’s range.


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