Tuesday, May 13, 2008

John Rutsey passes away at age 55
7:39AM EST | comments (161) |

John RutseyUPDATE - 5/17@9:44AM: The official statement from Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson:

Our memories of the early years of Rush when John was in the band are very fond to us. Those years spent in our teens dreaming of one day doing what we continue to do decades later are special. Although our paths diverged many years ago, we smile today, thinking back on those exciting times and remembering John's wonderful sense of humour and impeccable timing. He will be deeply missed by all he touched.

Alex & Geddy

Donations may be made in John's memory to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, 7100 Woodbine Avenue, Suite 311, Markham, ON, L3R 5J2 (online:, by phone: 905-944-4631).

----- snip -----

UPDATE - 5/15@10:52AM: A short obituary which includes information for charitable donations in John's name was published in today's National Post (thanks i love rush).

John Rutsey
RUTSEY, John Howard - It is with deep sadness that John's family announces his untimely passing due to complications from his lifelong affliction with diabetes, at age 55. Donations may be made in John's memory to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, 7100 Woodbine Avenue, Suite 311, Markham, ON, L3R 5J2 (online:, by phone: 905-944-4631). Online Condolences:

----- snip -----

UPDATE - 5/13@10:44PM: Some more details are starting to trickle in via Draco over at Counterparts. Apparently the cause of death was a heart attack brought on by complications from diabetes. His family will be making an announcement as to where to send a charitable donation in his memory within the next few days.

If you've been keeping up with the comments in the original blog post over at the Q107 Rock Report you may have noticed a few comments from some notable names in Rush history. Here's one from the woman credited with discovering Rush back in 1974 - Donna Halper:

When I discovered Rush in Cleveland in 1974, John was the drummer and he looked really frail even back then. There were rumours he was on drugs but NO! He was not. He was struggling with diabetes, and would all his life. I hope he rests in peace-- a very good guy with a disease that today is treatable, but back then, not so much.
Posted by Donna L. Halper on 5/13/2008 3:27:15 PM

And here's one from Lindy Young - who is Geddy's brother-in-law and had a short stint in Rush back in 1969:

John was an integral part of the band Rush in the beginning. It was his drive and leader- ship that first help establish the band. A solid drummer with a flare for showmanship made him unique. What a pleasure it was to play with John,Geddy and Alex in the those early days of Rush. Goodbye, my friend.
Posted by Lindy Young on 5/13/2008 5:00:49 PM

Now that I've had all day for this news to sink in, and after a few listens to Rush's debut album ... I'm pretty bummed out about it. Rest in peace John.

----- snip -----

The Q107 Rock Report is reporting that Rush founding member John Rutsey passed away over the weekend according to Rush's management company Anthem. Rutsey was with Rush from 1968 to 1974 and played on the band's self-titled debut album after which he quit the band due to creative differences and health issues. He was replaced by Neil Peart in the summer of 1974. He died on Sunday, May 11 at the age of 55. As of the moment there has been no official statement on a cause of death nor plans for a memorial service. Thanks to Jay C and Brian S for the heads up.



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#161 - Posted 7/17/09 @12:11AM by RushFanForever [contact]

Here is an interview with John Rutsey from Macleans magazine from awhile back.

#160 - Posted 11/6/08 @12:35AM by Webster [contact]

John, I always enjoyed your company at our favorite watering hole in TO. I could be sure to have a good laugh of your wit. The conviviality we engaged in, your intellect, your kindness and your humour will be remembered forever. RIP.
Adios Amigo.
#159 - Posted 7/2/08 @6:30PM by niz2112 [contact]

Sorry to hear this news. John's drumming on "Rush" is very enjoyable to listen to. This guy was definitely a fine drummer in his own right.
#158 - Posted 6/1/08 @2:18AM by Fiat

Sorry but Fly by Night doesn't come close to their debut.
Sure it's a great LP. but it lacks the raw talent that the first lp. had.
So the comment about FBN being their first lp. is just dumb...

I also love how some of you are trying to justify rush NOT doing a dedication for him. Who cares how long it's been, he still was a founding member.

#131 - Posted 5/14/08 @12:05PM by david [contact]

Fly By Night has so much more range than the first album, it's not even funny. Get over Rutsey and the first album. It was decent but nothing close to what Peart brings to the table.
#157 - Posted 5/15/08 @3:57PM by chutch15 [contact]

Can Donna Halper ever complete a sentence without mentioning that she "discovered" Rush? She spun them for the first time in the United States. Great. Thank you very much. You'd think she discovered the cure for cancer the way she tossed that around. She had 15-minutes of non-monetary fame in 1974. Get over yourself, Donna.
#156 - Posted 5/15/08 @11:06AM by Cygnus-X1 [contact]

I have been checking out and there is no mention of Johns death that I can find anywhere. Does anybody find that odd?? Even a quick RIP or something?? If it's there somewhere and I've missed it please let me know.
#155 - Posted 5/15/08 @8:23AM by desertfan [contact]

Yes, it is sad news and I still enjoy listening to the debut album very much.

Still, I don't expect any kind of change in the live set. They might make a mention of some sort in the first show back from the break, but probaly nothing after that.

As Ged and Alex have said, they really haven't had any connection or contact with John in a very long time.

Anyone who read Contents Under Pressure that came out after the R30 tour knows how they felt John was a bit aloof and pretty much hung them out to dry when it came to submitting lyrics he was supposed to have ready.

They all made their life choices and it is what it is.

All these tribute ideas, while interesting and noble, are just a bit excessive to ever expect to come to fruition.

RIP John. You WILL be remembered by each of us in our own it probably should be.
#154 - Posted 5/14/08 @11:58PM by rocinante5m [contact]

f-ed up find there sean, looks like Alex might have another job for his lawyers.....that's crazy scary shit.....where was the editor, on vacation?.......
#153 - Posted 5/14/08 @11:53PM by ATG

lol @ #149

Sheesh, what idiots!
#152 - Posted 5/14/08 @10:49PM by mtjeffs [contact]

U know what would be real nice..... If neil pulled out some new (yet unreleased album) song... worked it up with the boys and dedicated that one to john rutsey at the next show. Of course we would still have to wait until 09 to get the studio version of it....

Hey...I can dream can't I???

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