Rush's Alex Lifeson says Neil Peart's death has left him unmotivated to play music

In a rare and unlikely interview, Alex Lifeson, the guitarist of former Canadian rock trio Rush, has spoke about the passing of former bandmate Neil Peart and ultimately how it’s affected his life.

The 66-year-old revealed that not only has he “played very little guitar” since Peart died, but that he no longer feels “inspired” or “motivated” to make new music or go out on stage again.

Lifeson dropped the bombshell during an appearance on New York City-based radio show Talkin’ Golf last Sunday, where he also spoke about his love for golf, how he connects it to playing guitar, and his friendship with frontman Geddy Lee.

The Limelight rocker said that Peart’s passing has “been difficult” for him to process and compared his lack of motivation to how he felt following the unexpected death of the drummer’s daughter Selena in 1997 after a fatal car accident.

(L-R) Alex Lifeson, Geddy Lee and Neil Peart of Rush attend the 28th Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at Nokia Theatre L.A, on April 18, 2013, in Los Angeles, Calif.

(L-R) Alex Lifeson, Geddy Lee and Neil Peart of Rush attend the 28th Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at Nokia Theatre L.A, on April 18, 2013, in Los Angeles, Calif.

Lester Cohen / WireImage

“I didn’t really play for about a year,” Lifeson told host Ann Liguori on the WFAN network show.

“Every time I pick up a guitar (now),” he added. “I just aimlessly kind of mess around with it and put it down after 10 minutes.”

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Lifeson continued: “Normally, I would pick up a guitar and I would play for a couple of hours without even being aware that I’m spending that much time (playing).”

Despite saying he felt uninspired, the veteran guitarist seemed positive that his itch to play will come back.

“I know it’ll come back,” he claimed.

On whether he missed performing, Lifeson said other than the “different, fantastic golf clubs” he gets to see across the world, he misses touring “in its essence.”

“When you’re really in good shape, you’ve rehearsed and you know everything, it’s effortless,” he said. “I do miss that aspect of it … (but) I don’t miss the touring.”

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Sitting in a hotel room, being away from my family and being away from friends is a price you pay, and in the whole scope of things, it’s not that great a price for the return,” revealed the B.C.-born musician.

Rush’s final tour — the 40th anniversary celebration dubbed “R40” — concluded in 2015 and spanned 35 cities across both he U.S. and Canada.

In his reflection, Lifeson acknowledged the half-decade he had been off of the road and admitted that he “probably missed it more” only “a year or two after (Rush) stopped.”

“I can’t say that I really miss it at this point,” he said. “I’ve settled into it now, and I quite like my life and what I’m doing.”

Lifeson continued: “I keep active in music, and I’m so in love with golf during the summer, and I’m close to my family. It’s a very good balance for me.”

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Toward the end of the interview, Lifeson touched on his long-lasting relationship with Lee, 66, and how the duo had talked about the possibility of a reunion before Peart’s death, following his retirement in 2016.

“I’m in touch with Geddy regularly,” he said. “Before this whole COVID-19 pandemic happening, Ged and I would see each other every week. We’d go out for dinner, or at least talk to each other.”

“We’re still in touch and will always have that friendship right ’til the end of our days,” he added.

Alex Lifeson, Geddy Lee and Neil Peart of Rush perform on the final night of their North American tour at Cruzan Amphitheatre on Oct. 2, 2010, in West Palm Beach, Fla. (Photo by Larry Marano/Getty Images)

Alex Lifeson, Geddy Lee and Neil Peart of Rush perform on the final night of their North American tour at Cruzan Amphitheatre on Oct. 2, 2010, in West Palm Beach, Fla. (Photo by Larry Marano/Getty Images)

Lifeson later implied that Lee was simply too busy promoting his book, Geddy Lee’s Big Beautiful Book of Bass, while they were in talks of “getting back together.”

“(Geddy) was like, ‘Yeah, when I get through this, when I get through this,’ and then always something came up, I guess,” said Lifeson.

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Reiterating his feelings of a lack of motivation, the guitarist concluded:  “I don’t know if the motivation is there for us to really do anything now. We’re certainly proud of our track record, and we still love music. But it’s different now.”

Peart died at the age of 67 on Jan. 7, after a lengthy battle with brain cancer — more than four years after retiring from Rush. His illness was not public knowledge until after his death.

adam.wallis@globalnews.ca

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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