It’s been five months since the death of Neil Peart, and Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson says that he has yet to find comfort in music. “It’s been difficult,” he told sports journalist Ann Liguori on her show Talkin’ Golf. “After Neil passed in January, I’ve played very little guitar. I just don’t feel inspired and motivated.”
Rush fans have speculated that Lifeson and Rush frontman Geddy Lee might find a way to carry on the band’s legacy after Peart’s death, but the guitarist says they aren’t at that point yet. “I don’t know if the motivation is there for us to really do anything now,” he said. “We’re certainly proud of our track record, and we still love music. But it’s different now.”
The band last toured in 2015 as a celebration of the band’s 40th anniversary. Lifeson and Lee inducted Yes into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017 and performed separately that night, but they have largely stayed away from the stage. Lee released a book in 2018, Geddy Lee’s Big Beautiful Book of Bass, and went on a book tour.
Lifeson says he feels the same way he did after Peart’s teenage daughter died in a 1997 car accident and Peart’s wife died from cancer a few months later. “I didn’t really play for about a year [after that],” he said. “I just don’t feel it in my heart right now. Every time I pick up a guitar, I just aimlessly mess around with it and put it down after 10 minutes…Normally, I would pick up a guitar and I would play for a couple of hours without even being aware that I’m spending that much time. So I know it’ll come back.”
The band resumed activity in 2002 and toured pretty consistently through 2015. “Maybe a year or two after we stopped, I probably missed it more,” Lifeson says. “But I’ve settled into it now, and I quite like my life and what I’m doing. I keep active in music, and I’m so in love with golf during the summer, and I’m close to my family. It’s a very good balance for me.”
Late last month, the group celebrated the 40th anniversary of Permanent Waves by releasing a deluxe edition of the album packed with live tracks from the era. A tribute concert honoring Peart was originally booked for May 16th at the Meridian Centre in St. Catharines, Ontario, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced organizers to postpone it until October 17th.