Geddy Lee Explains Why It was ‘Bittersweet’ Performing With Yes at the Rock Hall Inductions
In 2017, Rush's Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson inducted Yes into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Not only did the pair give a heartfelt speech that underscored their fandom—Lee also had the chance to sit in and play "Roundabout" with the legendary prog band, sitting in for the late bassist Chris Squire.
"I really did love playing that song with them," Lee said during a Q&A on the January 19 Rush Fan Day at the Rock Hall in Cleveland tied to his new book, Geddy Lee's Big Beautiful Book of Bass. "It was bittersweet for me, because Chris Squire was such a huge hero to me. and the fact that he wasn't there was a vacuum that no one can fill properly. I felt for his family, because I know that's all that was on their mind that day. I felt a real weight to pull it off. I practiced, as I usually do, like a crazy person, to make sure I didn't embarrass Chris by my performance."
The 2017 performance was also particularly notable because it brought together members from different eras of Yes, including Jon Anderson, Steve Howe, Trevor Rabin, Rick Wakeman, and Alan White.
"The guys were really sweet to me, the guys in the band," Lee added. "There sort of is two versions of Yes—I guess they had a schism at some point—so that was the first time they had been together again as a band in quite a while. So it was a little awkward at a few moments. But they all came together—and they were very kind and indulged me when I kept wanting to play the song over and over again."
Earlier in the Q&A, Lee reminisced about his first Rickenbacker (a '73) bass that "got me through all those early tours" with Rush. Playing this particular instrument was also a nod to Yes.
"I'd always dreamed of having a Ricky, ever since I heard Chris Squire play," he shared, as the crowd clapped with reverence. Lee then acknowledged Cleveland's role in helping break Rush in America and set their career in motion. "You guys responded to 'Working Man' on the radio, and that led to our first record contract, which led to our first advance. With that advance, you and I"—and Lee gestures to Lifeson—"went shopping."
Lifeson shared that he bought a Les Paul guitar, while Lee chimed in that he "bought that Ricky that I dreamed of. I had to make that sound the way I wanted it to sound. Of course, I thought I'd plug it in, and I thought I'd sound just like Chris Squire—which doesn't work that way. It comes from these things." He shook his fingers in an exaggerated fashion. "Not having Chris Squire's fingers, I worked on my own sound."
A video replay of the entire Q&A is available at the Rock Hall's Facebook page—and audio of the entire interview will air on several SiriusXM channels throughout January, including Classic Rewind, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Radio and Volume, and via SiriusXM On Demand.