Can you write about Rush without mentioning John Rutsey?

You remind the music section it's no longer 1974, and we reward you with a Payback Time T-shirt and two tickets to a Live Nation club show of your choice taking place in Vancouver within the next four weeks. Here’s this week’s winning whine.

Dear Payback Time: In 2008 I read Steve Newton’s review of Rush’s Snakes & Arrows tour stop at the then-GM Place. He ended the review with a shoutout to original drummer John Rutsey. Nothing especially noteworthy normally but it sure sounded familiar”¦ I’m pretty sure his review of the 2002 Vapour Trails tour also mentioned John Rutsey. And I’m also quite certain that Mr. Newton’s coverage of the 1996 Test for Echo tour once again made reference to the long-since sacked skins man. Can these be verified? Your online archive only goes back so far. Who knows what might be revealed?

Back to the present, the Eye of Newt (great blog name, by the way) June 14 posting rehashing drumming icon Neil Peart’s famous reticence sent me over the edge and prompted me to write in. Rutsey gets more press time! Amazing that the June 9 and 12 EON postings about Peart managed to avoid his name so thank heavens for small mercies in Rush coverage. Never before has a band member 35+ years gone been so celebrated.

I can only speculate why such fascination for the now deceased drummer haunts this scribe. Perhaps they are related. Perhaps upon hearing Rush’s first album, Mr. Newton was so enamoured with the drum parts that a permanent shrine was erected in his heart. Perhaps he never forgave Neil Peart for replacing him. I may never know but I gotta say: enough with the Rutsey references already! Thanks to the superlative Rush biopic Beyond The Lighted Stage more people than ever know that Peart was not Rush’s first drummer so can we leave it at that? I guess we’ll find out soon assuming June 30’s Rush show merits some more Newtonation.

> Greg Williams

Steve Newton responds: Dearest Greg—you’ve got me dead to rights, buddy. When you ventured to guess that I was so enamoured with John Rutsey’s drum parts that a permanent shrine was erected in my heart, you couldn’t have been closer to the truth. Well, maybe a little closer. It wasn’t Rutsey’s drum parts so much as his one single drum part—that cowbell on “In the Mood”—that cemented me as a hardcore Rutsey maniac, committed to keeping his name alive no matter how many Greg Williams’s I confound in the process. Mind you, if Rutsey’s cowbell hadn’t blended so well on that tune with Alex Lifeson’s colossal boogie lick—one of the most beautiful things I’d ever heard in my life up to that point—I doubt his percussive antics would have seemed so unforgettable. To me that instrumental combo just screams 1974, which was arguably the greatest year for music ever.

Also, it’s nice that you think Eye of Newt is a great blog name. Feel free to use it for your own nefarious purposes. Mine’s called Ear of Newt. Grubs off that one.

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May 28, 2013 at 7:42am

John Rutsey remains a mystery to us mere mortals from 1974 to the date of his death in 2008 have never heard of him. I do not think the life of the bodybuilder was sick and could not do tours could make efforts by lifting weights in his life? I'm an amateur drummer now but when i was young I dreamed to break through in the music.I understand the dream is broken by john if Rutsey was sent away from the band Having a band and grow with it I know what it means, the importance of this to say that you do not by john Rutsey and its contribution in the first album. John Rutsey was a great drummer with clean style and great groove present from good technique and personality .. to be great serves bat not only the technique, but the touch l be identified. In the first album the band expresses its roots that loves to play and why the rush since I discovered the first album I listen to it with a lot of passion because it is a blues rock album heartfelt and sincere. These in my opinion are the soul to rush, if you encounter in a cellar of the house without public geddy and alex john would sound I believe in the mood of instinct and of course I do not think the tracks of moving pictures .. tell you now an absurdity for fans rush of words to lynch me, but I think those are the real rush of the first two albums, the others are built artificial make music that their great technique allowed him to make the progressive but they loved the hard rock and blues music .John Rutsey was forgotten, but without him there would not have been the first album without him ir not rush would not understand who they were and where they wanted to go. The first drummer (a friend) and the first real band is like your first love you never forget
luca Italy