Music is what makes a life richer, even joyful. It has been this way for me my entire life beginning at a very early age. The finest gift over my formative years was a Zenith clock radio. My father’s business was John D’s Radio and Television Service, a company he started just after the end of WWII. He sold and repaired radios and televisions so there was always a nice variety of electronics to covet. A clock radio gave a kid entry into a world of music among other things.
Just the other day I was reflecting on accompanying my father to his business during the summer months where I would be served a Tick Tock Restaurant hamburger and a cold Orange Crush soda from the Coca-Cola bottling works next door. During the noon hour we would always listen to Paul Harvey. Mr. Harvey was a legend in the radio broadcasting world, and he was always interesting to listen to.
Today’s youth are so overwhelmed by electronics it is impossible for them to concentrate on anything simple and pure. I can’t imagine a teenager listening to a radio station – it would be too boring for them. Back in the day there might only have been a few radio stations on the air, so it was simple to pick which one to listen to.
Being a late entrant into the Baby Boomer generation allowed me to be exposed to all kinds of music, but hearing the rock and roll of the 1960’s as a young boy really got my attention. My oldest sister, Isobel, was about seven years older than me and she was a Beatles fanatic. I would hear her play her albums through my bedroom wall and it was music that really caught my interest.
At about age 10 I was given my first stereo Hi-Fi set with an AM/FM tuner and a turntable. I thought I had gone to heaven. Not having a job that would allow me to purchase record albums, I would borrow my sister’s Beatles records. It took me some time to purchase a set of headphones so I could listen without being told to turn the music down. After a long day at school it was a delight to run home and fire up my Hi-Fi for a little pick-me-up.
As time went on I was able to upgrade my stereo system to include the ability to listen to AM/FM stations, record albums, cassette tapes and for those of you old enough to remember the good old days, even an 8-track tape player. My musical tastes multiplied over the years giving me a broad range of music I could listen to. I was as much a John Denver fan as I was a Monkey’s or Beatles fan.
Sometime around my junior year of high school I learned of a Canadian band named RUSH. They were a three-piece band consisting of Alex Lifeson on guitar, Geddy Lee on base and Neil Peart on drums. Being that my mother was a Canadian I had a natural attraction to anything from that country, including music. The music of the band RUSH became a part of my music rotation that only grew stronger over the years.
Bands rarely stay together very long. The Beatles were together for about eight years before they became so sick of each other that they split up. Thankfully, all the original Beatles kept recording music so there was still new music to listen to. Rock and Roll bands of the 1970’s and 80’s seemed to follow the stereotypical trend of good music being ruined by alcohol and drugs, which always led to numerous conflicts between members. Good groups like the Osmonds and the Jackson 5 also fell apart when some band members went out on their own. It was always a sad time when this happened because it was never the same to listen to the music after the break-up.
Going to a concert in a theater or arena was always the highlight of a kid’s life. I remember sleeping out over night at the mall so I could be first in line to get tickets to The Who, which sadly was the worst concert I ever went to. The seats were terrible, and we were so bummed out because we were huge Who fans. One thing I never enjoyed about live concerts was the crudeness of the musical acts. It wasn’t uncommon to see a band whose music you really love, act like idiots on stage, drinking, smoking and using profanity. I learned never to go to a live concert of a band with that reputation.
The band RUSH was wonderful to listen to on record albums as well as in concert. Though they played a pretty intense live concert, they never used profanity, smoked, drank or otherwise carried on during a live concert, they simply just rocked the arena.
RUSH was a band that stayed together for about 45-years, retiring from touring about five years ago. As a huge RUSH fan, it was sad to see them retire because their music had become a big part of my musical life. Then a few weeks ago I learned that their long-time drummer, Neil Peart, had passed away from a brain tumor. It was a sad day for all their fans, me included. Peart was just 67-years-old,
Though he will never play another live show – at least here on earth – the memory of the twenty-five concerts I attended will stay in my memory for years to come. There’s always hope that there is a place for rock bands in heaven, at least the good ones. RIP Neil.