My biggest guitar influences: Alex Lifeson

When I started playing guitar, I started really getting into listening to music heavily as well. This was at the turn of the millennium when MP3 players and IPods didn’t quite exist yet, so I had one of those cheap portable CD players.

My mum is a huge Rush fan, she grew up during the 70s and 80s listening to the early fantasy orientated albums, such as A Farewell to Kings and Hemispheres.

She used the CD player as an opportunity to revisit the band and the first we played was Presto.

Now this album is considered one of their weakest in songwriting and production but the impact it had on me back then makes me love the record. The Pass is undeniably one of their best works.

Neil Peart and Geddy Lee get a lot of plaudits in the bass guitar world and understandably so, and some see Alex Lifeson has perhaps overshadowed by that and the 80s synths but I definitely don’t see it that way. His playing, writing and tone makes him an indispensable part of the trio and an enormously influential player in the guitar world in general.

He pioneered open chord voicings, super ambitious in his writing and versatile in his stylistic choices. There is technically astounding work in the catalogue but there’s also wonderfully tasteful music. His live tone from the noughties onwards was utterly sensational and I’ll never forget the first time seeing the band live, when he opened with ‘Limelight’. It shook me to my core.

As far as writing a series goes, I had to start with Lifeson, his playing is very much in my DNA and I’ve no problem with that. I also greatly admire him as a person, his outlandish humour, and the graceful, thoughtful way he handles himself in interviews.

I look forward to sharing more of my top guitarists with you over the coming days.

My top Alex Lifeson guitar tracks:

Xanadu

La Villa Strangiato

Freewill

YYZ

Limelight

Analog Kid

Between the Wheels

Middletown Dreams

The Pass

Caravan

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