After fifteen years of being snubbed by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Canadian prog-rock legends Rush finally received their overdue recognition in 2013, an accomplishment over forty-five years in the making. It’s hard to find a band as hard-working and with as many successes as Rush, and in fact the three 60+ year-old rock veterans accepted the Hall of Fame award in the midst of a 73-date world tour in support of their nineteenth studio album Clockwork Angels.
Since forming the band in 1968 in Toronto, Alex Lifeson, Geddy Lee, and Neil Peart (who joined in 1974) made music on their own terms, starting off as a heavy blues-rock band before pioneering the genre of progressive metal. Their first foray into progressive music earned them a cult following, but they hadn’t achieved mainstream success.
After their third album Caress of Steel flopped in 1975, they were cautioned by Mercury Records to follow-up with something more palatable for radio and mainstream listeners, or they would be dropped from the label. But the trio had no interest in pandering to outside influences, and instead took one last shot at honing their progressive rock vision. They produced 2112, an album that opens with a twenty-minute long song, and the polar opposite of what the label demanded of them.
This time it paid off, and 2112 was greeted with rave reviews and chart topping success. What was a huge risk for the band actually ended up earning them their first taste of commercial success. It also set the tone for the band’s approach to creating music, and they continued following their own vision on their own terms.
They went on to sell over forty million albums, and toured worldwide for decades. They rank fifth for most consecutive gold or platinum studio albums, only topped by cultural behemoths The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Kiss, and Aerosmith.
But despite all their success, when they were eligible for induction in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998, they were overlooked. Year after year fans watched in dismay as Rush was passed over for artists like Madonna and The Red Hot Chili Peppers. It took fifteen years until Rush was finally recognized.
They were inducted by Foo Fighters and Rush superfans Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins on April 13, 2013. “Playing upwards of 250 shows a year, from day one the band built its following the right way,” Grohl said in his induction speech.
“No hype, no bullshit, they did it from the ground up without any help from the mainstream press,” Grohl added. “Their legacy is that of a band that stayed true to themselves no matter how uncool they may have seemed to anyone.”