He was in Montreal launching Geddy Lee's Big Beautiful Book of Bass, a truly spectacular collection of photos that tell the story of the historical development of the electric bass. Geddy is a serious collector: as he told the audience, he owns around 280 bass guitars, many of which are showcased in the book.
It was amazing to see all of the cool Rush t-shirts from every era of the band's impressively long history. Fans mingled and enjoyed the DJ (who played an all-Rush set, of course) while awaiting Geddy.
Geddy was in conversation with writer and music aficionado Daniel Richler. Regarding the book's genesis, Geddy explained that as he was collecting instruments, he became curious about their origins, but found in his research that there was a dearth of historical information about the electric bass. Noticing this niche to be filled, he embarked on a journey to chronicle the story of the electric bass, which he says parallels the history of pop music.
Bass guitars are not the only thing Geddy collects avidly! He mentioned that his interest in wine is similar to his love of the bass, insofar as both have stories to tell, providing a glimpse into the past, and bringing him to different regions around the world. The more he learned about his bass guitars, the more he came to see them as pieces of mid-century art that deserve to be shared.
With that in mind, Geddy didn't want his book to be a dry, encyclopedic account, but rather to have a conversational tone that would bring the instruments to life, and bring people joy. In the process, his photographer took upwards of 30,000 shots, and their first manuscript of the book clocked in at a whopping 840 pages (much to the amusement of the editor!) They managed to prune it down significantly, but at just over 400 pages, the final product is still a hefty tome!
Geddy told us how he once was concerned that unless he played a particular bass with a specific tone and gear set-up, he wouldn't sound like himself, but he learned by playing different combinations that his own personality always came through. This shows how the instruments truly come to life when in the hands of a passionate player, which is part of what he wanted to convey in his book. Along with their aesthetic value as mid-century art objects made of wood, steel and plastic, these bass guitars are also tools that make music that quite literally changes people's lives (as the packed house of Rush fans could surely attest!)
Another fun story he told was that seeing as Rush is a three-piece, Geddy often felt like he had to play "too many notes" in order that the songs not feel empty during Alex's solos, and that's how he wound up developing his signature style.
After the conversation, Geddy took audience questions, and kindly signed hundreds of books until every last fan had the chance to meet him and get their books personalized. Geddy proved that his reputation as a truly exemplary person who goes the extra mile for his fans is well-deserved. Happy grins were everywhere! We would like to extend our thanks to Geddy, and to everyone who helped bring him to Montreal, as well as the amazing fans from near and far who came out to the Rialto to meet him.
Geddy Lee's Big Beautiful Book of Bass
Globe and Mail National Bestseller"It's not surprising that sooner or later I'd dive down the proverbial rabbit hole into the world of vintage bass guitars."—Geddy...More Info
Here's a link to the book, for anyone who missed the launch and signing. It's a beauty!