Rush Fans Outraged as Original Drummer Snubbed by Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Rutsey, perhaps best known for his work on Rush’s 1974 track “Working Man,” was a school-age friend of future Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson. The two of them joined with bassist Jeff Jones to form a predecessor group. Geddy Lee eventually replaced Jones, and this initial edition of Rush would issue a debut single (a 1973 version of Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away”) as well as its self-titled debut album, both of which feature Rutsey on drums. (His brother Bill was also said to have come up with the name “Rush.”) Rutsey left the band not longer after ‘Rush’ appeared in 1974, in part over issues with diabetes, and the disease is believed to have contributed to his early demise at just 55 in 2008.
With the addition of drummer/lyricist Neil Peart, the legendary Canadian band’s most successful — and well known — lineup was set. It took another four decades, but Rush — well, Lee, Lifeson and Peart, anyway — will finally earn entry into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame later this year.
Posts on the Rush Is a Band Facebook page, reflect a fierce loyalty to Rutsey — even if the nominating committee dismissed his early contributions: “Without John, Rush would not exist,” one particularly irritated fan writes. “Once again, Rock And Roll Hall Of Shame: even when you finally get it right, you still get it wrong,” fumes another.
Least he be completely forgotten, Rutsey was featured on two recent Rush films, performing twice as part of the bonus features for 2010’s ‘Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage,’ as well as 2011’s ‘Time Machine 2011: Live in Cleveland.’