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Alex Zivojinovich, aka Alex Lifeson, was born on August 27, 1953 in Fernie, British
Columbia, Canada. The son of  Serbian immigrants, Alex grew up in Toronto,with his
first musical experience coming on the viola. He received a six-string Kent acoustic
guitar as a Christmas gift from his father when he was 13. As a teen, he began
jamming with local drummer John Rutsey and by 1968, Geddy Lee replaced original
bassist and vocalist, Jeff Jones, one month into the band who mainly covered songs
by Cream,
Led Zeppelin and the Who. As a musician, Alex soon adopted the stage
name of "Lifeson" or 'son of life', the Serbian translation for "Zivojinovich".
Smashing Pumpkins and Primus, as well as prog rock bands such as
Rush has influenced many contemporary artists, including Metallica, The
Dream Theater and Symphony X. With U.S. album sales in excess of 25
million, Rush has earned 24 gold records, 14 platinum and 3
multi-platinum records. According to the RIAA, their sales statistics place
them fourth behind The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Aerosmith for
the most consecutive gold or platinum albums by a rock band.
Rush, as they glossed their new band,released
their first single "Not Fade Away", a Buddy Holly
cover, in 1973, with a Side B  original, "You Can't
Fight It". The band signed with Polygram Records in
1973 to re-release their eponymous debut album,
Rush. (1974 and re-mastered in 1997).The album
had previously been released by their own
independent label, Moon Records, without fanfare.
Although the new lineup didn't immediately translate into commercial acceptance, after two less-than-successful 1975
Fly By Night and Caress of Steel , their breakout release occurred in 1976 with 2112, their first platinum album
in Canada. A string of Rush classic albums would follow that featured Alex's supreme technical guitar work such as  
"Xanadu"  A Farewell to Kings (1977), "La Villa Strangiato"  Hemispheres (1978), "Freewill" Permanent Waves (1980),
and "
YYZ" Moving Pictures (1981). Note: 'YYZ' is the international airport code for Toronto Pearson International
"It's always a happy day when 'YYZ' appears on our luggage tags" --- Neil Peart
After the band moved away from guitar rock to a more  textured, synthesizer-based
sound, the focus on Alex's talent was de-emphasized. To achieve a broader, more
progressive palette of sound, Alex began to experiment with classical and
twelve-string guitars. He stuck through the transition and his patience was rewarded.
By popular demand of loyal fans, the '90's Rush returned to the hard rock-based
material that again made Lifeson's guitar work prominent, especially on  albums like
Counterparts (1993), the band's fifteenth studio release that became
Rush's highest U.S. charting album, peaking at #2 on the Billboard 200.
Alex's lone side project was a mid-'90s group, Victor, that resulted in a
1996 self-titled album. The group included Primus bassist, Les Claypool
and I Mother Earth vocalist, Edwin. Alex has also done session work for
Platinum Blonde's
Alien Shores (1985) where he does the solo on
"Cryin' Over You" and "
Holy Water", former Red Rider frontman, Tom
Cochrane, on his second solo album
Ragged Ass Road (1995), 3 Doors
Down's  reissue of
Better Life (2001) and exceptional solo work on
Jason  Plumbs new album.
"Clapton's solos seemed a little easier and more approachable. I remember sitting at my record player and moving the
needle back and forth to get the solo in 'Spoonful.' But there was nothing I could do with Hendrix."
--- Alex Lifeson
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Rush (1974)
Fly by Night (1975)
Caress of Steel (1975)
2112 (1976)
A Farewell to Kings (1977)
Hemispheres (1978)
Permanent Waves (1980)
Moving Pictures (1981)
Signals (1982)
Grace Under Pressure (1984)
Power Windows (1985)
Hold Your Fire (1987)
Presto (1989)
Roll the Bones (1991)
Counterparts (1993)
Test for Echo (1996)
Vapor Trails (2002)
Feedback (EP) (2004)
Snakes & Arrows (2007)
Clockwork Angels (2012)
All the World's a Stage 1976
Exit...Stage Left (1981)
A Show of Hands (1989)
Different Stages (1998)
R30: 30th Anniversary World Tour (2005)
Grace Under Pressure Tour (2006)
Snakes & Arrows Live (2008)
Time Machine: Live in Cleveland (2011)
Archives (1978)
Rush Through Time (1981)
Retrospective I (1997)
Greatest Hits (1974–1980)
Retrospective II (1997)
Greatest Hits (1981–1987)
The Spirit of Radio:(2003)
Greatest Hits (1974–1987)
Gold (2006)
Retrospective III (2009)
Greatest Hits (1989-2008)
Working Men (2009)
Time Stand Still: The Collection (2010)
Icon (2011)
In addition to Alex's fine electric and acoustic guitar work, he also plays the mandola,
mandolin, bouzouki, bass pedal synthesizer and occasionally, Geddy's keyboards. He
also a passion for studio production, and is the only member of Rush to compose and
produce a television theme ("Andromeda" in 2000). As a guitarist, Alex is a solid Gibson
man. For a close look at Alex's guitar collection, enjoy this
interview with Guitarist
during Rush's Snakes & Arrows tour. For an update from the 2011 "Time
Machine Tour", Alex explains the electronics behind his powerful sound from his new
Royal Crimson Gibson Axcess Les Paul guitar, to his complex pedalboard, to his
switching configuration, to his Hughes & Kettner tri-amp rig in this
video courtesy of
Musician's Friend. Though he does this interviews straight, Alex does have a rather
interesting  sense of humor according to the other guys in the band. We see a bit of
that silliness in these outtakes from his "
Artist of the Decade" interview.  
Snakes and Arrows was Rush's first studio outing since 2004's Feedback, and their first complete studio album since
was named as one of Classic Rock‘s 10 essential progressive rock albums of the decade.
Alex, Geddy and Neil were awarded Officers of the Order of Canada in 1996, the first rock band to be so honored in
Canada. With a number of Juno Awards, Rush was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1994 and received
a star on the
Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2010. Still, their lack of nomination to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is an
insidious snub. Geddy and Alex sarcastically
seem to agree. (I mean, c'mon guys... Abba, Bloindie, The Beastie Boys...
but no Rush???) Alex discusses the prospects of getting into the Rock HOF at the time as well as Rush's concept album
and nineteenth full-length studio album
Clockwork Angels, in this 2012 interview with Rolling Stone.  For more on Alex
and Rush, visit their
official website.
While Rutsey did all the drum tracks on the album, he was unable to tour to support it due to his Type 2 diabetes and
left the band. He was replaced on drums by
Neil Peart, who joined the band two weeks before they were scheduled to
open for Manfred Mann and Uriah Heep on their first ever tour at the Civic Center in Pittsburgh in August, 1974.
Needless to say, Neil mastered the material. Not only was he an  exceptional drummer, but also a gifted lyricist. The
trio has remained in tact ever since.
Original 1968 Rush: Alex (L),
John Rutsey (M)  & Geddy Lee (R).
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