Few bands, it seems, can endure the vagaries of rock n' roll for long. Endless tours, personality clashes and royalty squabbles ultimately take their toll on most. So what is Rush's secret? The legendary Canadian rock group-made up of bassist Geddy Lee, 44, guitarist Alex Lifeson, 44, and drummer Neil Peart, 45-has been together for 25 years, playing its brand of "progressive" rock to fans around the world. According to Lee, the secret lies in the bonds of friendship the three members forged back in the late 1960s and early '70s. "I've known these guys for most of my life," says Lee, about the group, which formed in Toronto and has sold 30 million albums. "We're like brothers, but without the baggage that family relationships sometimes have." The size of the band has also helped. "There's no factions with three people," he adds. "We can have a meeting in the back of a car."
To document its history, Rush has just released Different Stages, a live, three-CD set that features concerts from 1978 to the mid-'90s. "Our fans are incredibly loyal and have a great curiosity as to the shifts and shapes that our music has taken over the years," says Lee. "This is really a souvenir for them." Meanwhile, the band is in performing limbo. Peart has suffered two tragedies recently-last year he lost his wife to cancer and his teenage daughter in a car accident-and Lee admits that he doesn't know what will become of the band. Out of respect for Peart, he says "there are no plans. Our concern is only for our friend."