Only a handful of bassists have successfully fronted major rock bands: Paul McCartney in the Beatles, Phil Lynott with Thin Lizzy, Sting in the Police, Lemmy Kilmister with Motorhead. Even fewer have done so with the flair and virtuosity of Rush’s Geddy Lee.
Even though he didn’t technically co-found Canada’s preeminent prog band, Lee joined Rush in 1968, almost immediately replacing original bassist Jeff Jones. From there, he became the group’s lead singer, balancing the two roles with mind-blowing ease. (After a spell writing lyrics, he handed over those duties almost entirely to drummer Neil Peart, who joined in 1974.)
The classic Rush lineup — Lee, Peart and guitarist Alex Lifeson — developed their early hard-rock style into a brainy form of progressive rock during a run of ’70s LPs, including their 1976 breakthrough LP, 2112, and subsequent classics A Farewell to Kings and Hemispheres.
“As our tastes got more obscure, we discovered more progressive rock-based bands like Yes, Van der Graaf Generator and King Crimson, and we were very inspired by those bands,” Lee once said. “They made us want to make our music more interesting and more complex, and we tried to blend that with our own personalities to see what we could come up with that was indisputably us.”
Rush moved into a more accessible sound — and reached wider commercial success — with 1980’s Permanent Waves and 1981’s Moving Pictures, both of which reached the Top 5 on the Billboard 200. They continued to fuse proggy playing and punchy hooks across their catalog, all the way up through their last album, 2012’s Clockwork Angels.
Rush’s final tour wrapped in 2015, and Peart’s 2020 death ended the band. Lee and Lifeson have focused their time on collaborative projects, including a line of branded beer, Lifeson’s Envy of None band and Lee’s 2018 Big Beautiful Book of Bass. And they haven’t completely ruled out working together at some point.
Below, we take a look at Geddy Lee Year-by-Year Photos 1974-2022, compiling images from every year since he joined Rush — excluding a stretch when the band entered a short-lived hiatus.