Gone but Not Forgotten – John Rutsey

Somehow this news escaped my attention when it first broke, but John Rutsey (co-founder and original drummer for Rush) died at age 55 over the weekend. Preliminary word is the cause of death was a heart attack possibly related to complications from diabetes, which he had been living with for decades.

An early photo of Rush with drummer John Rutsey

Rush fans know the background well – Rutsey helped co-found the band in Toronto during the summer of 1968, along with guitarist Alex Lifeson and bassist/singer Jeff Jones. Jones’s stay was brief, and he was replaced in short order by Geddy Lee. After more lineup shifts the trio of Lee, Lifeson, and Rutsey was cemented in May 1971. It was this trio that released the band’s self-titled debut in March 1974.

Rutsey left Rush in July 1974, with the main causes reportedly being health concerns and creative differences. He was replaced later that month by Neil Peart, and the rest as they say is history. While Peart’s impact on the group is immeasurable, I think most Rush fans have always appreciated Rutsey’s very important role in the band’s history. It certainly is interesting to ponder what might have become of the group had he stuck with them.

So thanks, John. In your honor I shall play the Rush album on my drive home, and turn it up to 11.

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