KISS bassist/vocalist Gene Simmons recently relayed a story where he claimed to have given RUSH’s Geddy Lee an early bass lesson
Geddy Lee from RUSH, renowned as one of the music industry’s greatest talents, received an unexpected lesson from Gene Simmons, as revealed during a recent discussion with Ultimate-Guitar.com. Simmons disclosed that not everyone approaches music in the same way, recounting a jam session after a show where he realized he and Lee were not on the same page.
Within a broader conversation about teaching music to others, despite his own admission of not being able to read or write music, Simmons discussed legendary figures like John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Jimi Hendrix, and Buddy Rich, who also lacked formal training. It was during this discussion that he shared the anecdote involving Geddy Lee.
“I’ll tell you a telling story. KISS took out Rush on their first tour,” recalled Simmons. “They came out to support us, you know, because we liked what they did. And this was in the, in their ‘Working Man‘ period, when they sounded kind of like a Canadian Zeppelin, which I still prefer, sound-wise, but obviously, they’ve done very well, and we used to hang out with the guys and joke around everything.”
“One night back at the hotel or backstage someplace, Geddy [Lee] and I were sitting down, trading licks, and I said, ‘Do you want to do a blues scale? You go first, and then I’ll continue the chord pattern,’ and he said, ‘I don’t know what you mean.’ At least from what I recall, Geddy didn’t understand what a blues scale was or what ‘1,4,5’ meant. That also bears noting that when you go ‘1,4,5’ to a musician, that means something, it’s a relationship of notes or chords,” explained Simmons.
“So I go, ‘Well, okay then, you hit a G, either octave or low,’ and he said, ‘Which one is that?’ Geddy played purely by ear. Now of course later on, he learned what the notes were and stuff like that,” revealed the KISS bassist.
Gene also touched on another notable artist, saying, “It’s the same thing with The Edge. The reason you heard ‘jingle jangle jingle jangle,’ kind of thing — that became the style of U2‘s guitar sound is when The Edge started playing guitar in a band, he couldn’t play chords. He just strummed various notes so, it’s all open to … Music is an interesting thing. You don’t have to get complex about it, just start.”
Simmons went on to reveal, “I can write songs and I can play various instruments, guitar, bass keyboards, and something like that, and even though I understand the basics of it, I understand that this handheld chord on a guitar is an, A minor, or A major, I understand that. But I can’t read or write music. Nor could Jimi Hendrix or Lennon and McCartney or anybody who’s in popular music almost without exception. And likewise, I can speak various languages, although it’s not important to be able to read or write.”
While lacking the ability to read or write music hasn’t hindered Simmons from achieving a legendary career in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, KISS is currently concluding their “End of the Road” tour, marking the end of their touring career later this year.