Rush Guitarist In Brawl

Alex Lifeson And His Son Are Stun-Gunned By Cops And Thrown In Jail

From "Upfront", Stories and Happenings from the world of Classic Rock, Classic Rock, February 2004, transcribed by pwrwindows


IN PERHAPS ONE OF THE MOST unlikely stories ever to come Upfront's way, Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson seems likely to sue the authorities of Naples, Florida, for alleged police brutality after a drunken, violent brawl at the plush Ritz-Carlton Hotel restaurant on New Year's Eve.

Up to now regarded as one of rock music's most gentlemanly and retiring figures, the Rush guitarist was detained under his real name of Alex Zivojinovich, and accused of six charges, including aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest and disorderly intoxication.

Despite being given a warning not to, Alex's son Justin Zivojinovich, 33, had gone on to the restaurant stage to sing a song for his wife with the house band and refused to leave. When the cops arrived, Alex reportedly spat blood on a deputy's face and pushed another down a hotel stairwell. The family dispute the accusation, claiming the policewoman tumbled accidentally during the struggle.

A taser stun gun was used to subdue the 50-year-old Alex (whose nose was broken in the mle) and his son.

Justin's wife Michelle, 30, was also taken into overnight custody at Collier County jail.

"I was singing Happy New Year, that's all I was doing," Justin Zivojinovich later stated. "Everyone was enjoying themselves. That's when someone started yelling for security.

There was no violence on our part. I was asked to leave, and said: 'Okay, I'm going to go. I'll grab my wife and be out of there'. They didn't want me to leave on a high note, they felt they would lose. They decided to aggravate me. They stunned me, as well as my father, with a stun gun." A tired and emotional Alex is reported to have told arriving officers: "Take me to jail, I don't care, it's [expletive] New Year's Eve."