During a Q&A session at “My Effin’ Life In Conversation” event at The Met in Philadelphia, Rish bassist/vocalist Geddy Lee shared his thoughts on reuniting with Alex Lifeson for the tribute concerts honoring the late Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins. The concerts took place in London and Los Angeles and featured guest drummers such as Tool’s Danny Carey, Omar Hakim, Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ Chad Smith, and Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl. The events paid homage to Hawkins and served as a celebration of his life.
Geddy Lee expressed the emotional impact of the tribute concerts, describing them as incredible and very emotional. He emphasized the importance of being part of the events to celebrate Hawkins’ life and honor his memory. Lee shared that Hawkins would occasionally send him emails, encouraging him to get back on stage and play music, highlighting Hawkins’ supportive and expressive nature.
Discussing Dave Grohl’s role in the tribute concerts, Lee praised Grohl as the most incredible human being he has ever met. Grohl understood the difficulty Lee and Alex Lifeson would face playing without the late Neil Peart. Despite the challenges, Grohl insisted on their involvement, recognizing their significance to Hawkins. Grohl suggested having multiple drummers to avoid comparisons to a new Rish lineup.
That was an incredible couple of days,” Geddy said. It was very emotional for obvious reasons. And so you’re looking at, first of all, two events to celebrate the life, and sadly the passing, of a great person, Taylor Hawkins, who was an amazing human being. He was a great drummer, of course, a great rocker, but he was a lovely and expressive guy. And I had just gotten an e-mail from him. He was like that. Every once in a while, he would send a note and just check in. ‘Hey, dude, what are you doing? How come you’re not out there playing, man? Come on, get the fuck off your ass. Get out there.’ That was the kind of guy he was. So, just being a part of that was important to us to do.” He continued: “Dave Grohl is the most incredible human being I’ve ever met in my life. He understood how difficult it would be for Alex and I to come back and play without [late Rush drummer] Neil [Peart]. And yet he said, ‘You were so important to Taylor. I can’t imagine doing this without you there.’ So I said, ‘Yes, of course,’ immediately. But he was very aware of how difficult it would be. And so he said, ‘One thing you cannot do is play with one drummer. ‘Cause then everyone’s just gonna say, ‘That’s the new RUSH. So let’s divide it up amongst all these drummers. I don’t wanna play the really hard ones. You can get someone else to do it.’ [Laughs] But anyway, so it was a great event. We paid tribute to him, and I got a chance to pay tribute to Neil. And because we were at the Forum, it was a cathartic moment for me. And in a way, we were able to reclaim those songs for ourselves again and feel good about playing the songs, whether Neil was with us or not. And that’s important for us to move on.”
The concerts provided a cathartic moment for Lee, particularly the Los Angeles show at the Forum, where Rush played its final concert in 2015. Lee spoke about the joyous celebration in London and acknowledged the complexity of emotions in Los Angeles due to the venue’s symbolism. Despite the mixed emotions, he felt they did justice to Taylor Hawkins and, in a small way, to Neil Peart, allowing the band to reclaim their songs and move forward.
Those two shows were really unusual for very different reasons. The show in London was perhaps the most joyous celebration of loss that I could ever imagine. I’ve never seen so many musicians in one place, and the atmosphere backstage was profoundly positive… In some ways, it was maybe the greatest gig of my life. The whole atmosphere was like nothing I’d ever experienced. But when we got to L.A. for the second show, things were a little different because of what that venue symbolizes to me. Being back at the Forum, where my band had played for the last time, it felt like I was returning to the scene of the crime. So I tried to be as joyous as I was in London, but I couldn’t find that same headspace. I was much more withdrawn backstage at that show, thinking about things. But I walked away from it feeling that at least we had done justice to Taylor, and, in a small way, justice to Neil.”
Geddy Lee previously discussed his participation in the Hawkins tribute concerts in an interview with Classic Rock magazine, describing the events as unusual and celebrating the positive atmosphere and camaraderie among musicians.