Long before Rush became one of the biggest prog bands on the planet, they were a little power trio out of Canada that many dismissed as a poor man’s Led Zeppelin. The group formed in 1968, and after six long years (and a few lineup changes) they grew so weary of searching for their own label that they simply formed their own. They released their self-titled debut on Moon Records in March of 1974. Around this time they played a gig at the Laura Secord Secondary School in Ontario.
Video of the performance sat in the basement of Rush’s management office for decades before filmmakers Sam Dunn and Scot McFadyen came across it while assembling their 2010 documentary Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage. For Rush fans, it’s an absolutely fascinating look at the band in their early days. Original drummer John Rutsey is still behind the kit, and he even introduces the song to the young audience.
Captured on this amazing video is their performance of “Working Man,” which was the first Rush song to get any real American airplay, largely due to the efforts of Donna Halper, a DJ at Cleveland’s legendary WMMS. She wisely realized the song would connect with Cleveland’s blue-collar workers.
Not much longer after this performance Rush parted ways with Rutsey. Accounts vary as to exactly why he left, but there were clear musical differences, and the drummer had health problems related to his diabetes. Sadly, Rutsey passed away in 2008.
The band held auditions for a new drummer, and in July of 1974 they officially welcomed Neil Peart into the band. It would prove to be a wise decision.