Separating The Trivia Wheat From the Trivia Chaff

Via Centrisity, I note that a celebrated footnote in “progressive rock” has passed away; John Rutsey, original drummer for “Rush”, is dead at age 55:

Rutsey was famous for playing on Rush’s 1974 debut album, including the song “In The Mood,” before deciding to leave the group due to health concerns. Rutsey suffered from diabetes and was unable to go on extended tours with the group.

Rutsey was sort of the Pete Best of the “progressive” rock scene; Rush replaced him with Neal Peart – the famously-technocratic drummer who is to percussionists what Dungeons and Dragons is to weekend recreation – on the brink of their big leap to fame as the leading Heinlein/Ayn Rand/Tolkein-based rock band of its era.

Or any era, I guess.

Footnote:  My first “real” band – which included a reasonably-frequent commenter on this site – played “Working Man”, the best song from that first album (shaddap about “Finding My Way”), as defined by a guy who has never been a big fan of the genre, but knows great musicians when he sees them… 

Anyway – condolences to the Rutsey family.

11 thoughts on “Separating The Trivia Wheat From the Trivia Chaff

  1. … “Working Man”, the best song from that first album …

    To quote a different genre, “You got that right. You sure…got that right.” I used that tune as a serious test of my set of speakers, or at least I told my parents that.

    Heinlein, Rand, Tolkein, D&D references all in one post on a band? You’re getting dangerously close to deserving my Internet handle.

  2. Well, well, another blast from the past. I started out on Fly By Night back in high school, then went out and got the first album, then Caress of Steel and later played the hell out of 2112. Saw them twice in concert. Checked in with the band from time to time after that (Tom Sawyer was a favorite). Hard to believe a 3-man band could produce that much sound – or that Geddy Lee’s “voice” lasted more than an album or two. Looks like I’ll be hitting the iTunes credit card again. Oh well, You Don’t Get Something for Nothing.

  3. hitting the iTunes

    What CAN this strange device be? When I click it, it gives forth a sound…

  4. Heinlein, Rand, Tolkein, D&D references all in one post on a band? You’re getting dangerously close to deserving my Internet handle.

    Well, to be fair, Rush actually writes the music 😉

  5. Hmmm… poor Rutsy. That’s damn young.

    Last week I had smokes and booze (unfortunately, I was out of Jack Daniels) for Sinatra’s day… I’ll need to load up my car with Rush tonight.

    Might even pull out my guitar… not that I can do a good Lifeson on it.

  6. By the way, Mitch is right about “Working Man”, of course. The live version(s) of “Finding My Way” is(/are) much better than the album version(s).

    Of course, “Working Man” live is an absolute treasure. Even with five minutes of Alex soloing.

    (If you’re going to draw that song out why not just bite the bullet and do “La Villa Strangiato” again?)

  7. Trees. Best Rush song, ever.

    Speaking of technocratic – can you imagine Neal Peart and Robert Fripp on the same stage?

  8. A gem, no doubt about it.

    I’ve really come to love Neil’s drum feature. Especially when he “plays” with the Buddy Rich band on stage.

  9. From
    “Our memories of the early years of Rush when John was in the band are very fond to us. Those years spent in our teens dreaming of one day doing what we continue to do decades later are special. Although our paths diverged many years ago, we smile today, thinking back on those exciting times and remembering John’s wonderful sense of humour and impeccable timing. He will be deeply missed by all he touched.”

    Alex & Geddy

    Donations may be made in John’s memory to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, 7100 Woodbine Avenue, Suite 311, Markham, ON, L3R 5J2 (online:, by phone: 905-944-4631).

  10. 20th row main floor on Thursday for the return visit. I suspect a comment or two will be made by the boys in John’s honor.


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