The bassist Geddy Lee says “blows me away”

Geddy Lee

The number of truly outstanding rock bassists is so small that one could count them on both hands, demonstrating the extraordinary accomplishment of becoming an instrument expert. Although most people probably think of Paul McCartney first, I bet Rush legend Geddy Lee comes in second.

A unique musician, Geddy Lee’s loping lines added a burst of energy to Rush’s sound. His bass served as an essential counterpoint to guitarist Alex Lifeson’s scorching licks and drummer Neil Peart’s massive rhythmic structures. Whether playing “YYZ,” “La Villa Strangiato,” or “New World Man,” the bespectacled maestro has left his mark on numerous four-string highlights.

Geddy Lee said to Rolling Stone in 2020, “Back in my day, nobody chose to be the bass player,” describing how he came to pick up the instrument. Ever since someone mentioned that they needed a bass player—you were always the guitarist—they voted for you to take over as the new bassist. The vote resulted in me getting into bass guitar.

Geddy Lee, in spite of his hesitation, was a natural when it came to the instrument. Presumably, Paul McCartney, who likewise blends driving notes with a funk twist, led the way for him. Still, Lee has declared his love for more than just the Liverpudlian. He has also previously mentioned the genius of The Who’s John Entwistle and Motown pioneer James Jamerson. He has always been a keen observer of the instrument, having been a fan of the most notable players.

Lee has frequently given credit to American jazz fusion bassist Jeff Berlin, who plays with Bill Bruford’s group, Bruford. When Lee was at the top of his game in 1980, Guitar Player asked him to name his favorite bass players of the time. He responded by saying that Berlin was his favorite player and that Bruford’s Gradually Going Tornado that year “blows me away.”

He declared: “I think Jeff Berlin is pretty great right now; I really like him.” Bill Bruford’s playing on Gradually Going Tornado [by Bruford, Polydor, 1- 6261] completely blew me away. I still listen to Jaco Pastorius, and Chris Squire is a major influence. Additionally, I enjoy Percy Jones, who plays bass for Brand X. He is excellent.

Even years later, Berlin continued to hold a special place in Geddy Lee’s heart. Global Bass identified the players who took his breath away in a 2000 interview. Although the focus of the comment was Les Claypool of Primus, Lee did not hesitate to point out that Jeff Berlin was still at the top of his game. “Well, certainly there is the whole ‘old school’ of them who were the bass players set in my mind.” Jack Bruce, John Paul Jones, Chris Squire, and John Entwistle. Les Claypool is a great bassist these days, in my opinion, and Jeff Berlin is still performing, of course. He is an incredible talent.

Below, you can see Jeff Berlin in action.









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