My parents got me a $25 Kent steel-string acoustic guitar when I was around 12. The following Christmas, my parents bought me a Conora electric guitar. It looked almost like a Gretsch. It cost $59, and my mom still has it.
Everybody has terrible things that they deal with. Everybody. Just because you're some big shot rock star doesn't mean you're immune to having these awful tragedies in your life.
Of any guitarist, Jimmy Page was my biggest influence. I wanted to look, think and play like him. Zeppelin had a heavy influence on Rush during our early days. Page's loose style of playing showed an immense confidence, and there are no rules to his playing.
Bryan Adams might not be what I want to put on, but he's a pop singer with a great voice and great guitar tone. Plus, he's done more for Canada than Rush have, because he works all the time. I envy him for that.
I think Rush have always had this reputation, particularly to non-fans, of being an ultra-serious and cerebral group when, in fact, the reverse is true. We don't take ourselves seriously at all. Sure, we take our music seriously, but that's altogether different.
I think that's given inspiration to other musicians. I know, particularly through the 90s, a lot of bands would cite Rush as an influence. I don't think it was so much our music, but more the way we really stuck to our guns.
The more I got into playing guitar, the more I enjoyed music, and the broader my listening became. The instrument itself became important to me, and I started messing around with classical guitar and took classical lessons.
In September 1968, Rush played for around 20 people at a small hall in a church basement. We played songs like 'Spoonful,' 'Fire' and 'Born Under a Bad Sign,' and got paid $10. Then we went to a nearby deli and ordered Cokes and French fries and started planning our future.
People are getting away from the whole album experience, it's true. I think that's sad. Maybe I'm just saying that because I'm an old fart. But I can't help it - albums are what I grew up with, and I still love them.
I dreamed of having a Gibson. I had a cheap Kent - you know, a Japanese guitar - and then a Kanora, a Japanese guitar. I borrowed a friend's Harmony for years. To have a Gibson was really, really my dream as a kid.
It used to be that you made an album and then you went on the road to promote that album, hoping for good record sales. Well, good record sales basically don't exist any more, and the emphasis has been more on the live show.
I really consider myself more of a rhythm guitarist than a soloist.
Pete Townshend is one of my greatest influences. More than any other guitarist, he taught me how to play rhythm guitar and demonstrated its importance, particularly in a three-piece band.
When we signed our deal in 1974, we'd already been together for six years. When they lowered the drinking age in Ontario in 1971 to 18 years, we went from playing two or three high schools in a month to playing clubs two or three times a week.
The shock of any trauma, I think changes your life. It's more acute in the beginning and after a little time you settle back to what you were. However it leaves an indelible mark on your psyche.
We've managed to have a long career that is still quite vibrant, yet we've never had to kow-tow to record companies who said we weren't commercial enough.
You know, we have a long history of covering different periods of this band's development with a live record... a sort of live thing that would be done for three or four records, and that was the intention with this particular package.
A lot of '2112' was written in the back seat of a car and in cold dressing rooms while on tour in northern Ontario.
When I look out at the audience at some of our shows, I think we are reaching a younger audience... I see lots of people in their 30s and 40s, but I also see a lot of people in their young and middle teens, and that's definitely reassuring.
With solos, I don't like to be too prepared going in - I like to surprise myself.