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Neil Peart, Geddy Lee & Alex Lifeson

Wed, Feb 21, 2024

Rush Olympics opening ceremony non-appearance postmortem

Tue, Feb 16, 2010@5:31PM | comments removed/disabled

UPDATE - 3/1@1:00PM: Rush did not appear at the closing ceremony either despite rumors to the contrary. Outside of the absurd amount of secrecy regarding the performers on VANOC's part, it looks like all the rumors and speculation stemmed from the fact that they were approached by VANOC and asked to take part in the ceremonies in some capacity. I independently confirmed this with Anthem and the fact that they kept citing a non-disclosure agreement also supports this. So since we know they were asked to appear but obviously did not, then they must have either refused up front or backed out at some later point. The exact details are not known.

UPDATE - 2/19@9:48AM: Thanks for all the feedback everybody. Reader jackrelax posted the following in the comments yesterday:

I just spoke with a co-worker who was in Vancouver for the opening ceremonies. He was in attendance at the 2nd of 2 dress rehearsals that took place 2 days before the final show. Rush was never scheduled to attend. There was never a "Ontario" segment in the show. The opening ceremonies were identical to the rehearsal that took place well before the athlete died. Rush was never slotted to perform. Nothing was canceled.

This jibes with a couple of other reports I've received since this post first went up. So my bet is that if there was ever an Ontario segment that included Rush it was either cut long before the ceremony or it's actually part of the closing ceremony, for which - like the opening ceremony - there have been very few details revealed. We also have confirmed that Rush is bound by an NDA and therefore were at the very least approached to perform by VANOC. So they either turned them down completely or will be performing at the closing ceremony (performers for the victory ceremonies have already been announced/finalized). Now if Rush's official tour announcement will indeed occur towards the end of the month, from a purely PR standpoint - an appearance at the closing ceremony on February 28th would make a lot of sense. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

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Rush fans everywhere were disappointed when the band did not perform at Friday night's Winter Olympics opening ceremony as had been rumored. There's been a lot of confusion among fans (me included) as to what happened and why they did not appear, mainly due to the fact that there was never any kind of official announcement regarding the performers; any information obtained prior to the performance itself was rumor and/or speculation. All we know for sure is that they obviously did not perform. Questions remain as to whether they were ever scheduled to appear at all, whether they were scheduled and had their portion cut, whether they will be performing at another time - possibly the closing ceremonies, etc. In light of all this I thought I'd put up a post summarizing events as I know them.

As far as I am aware, the rumor that Rush would be performing first appeared on the Counterparts message board on Friday, February 4th around 3PM in a post from board member Sniglets:

Just heard through a friend who is working with a sound crew that is contracted with NBC that the big rumor today was Rush being tapped to perform in the opening night ceremonies for the Winter Olympics on Feb. 12th as a representation of Canada's culture and music. The song would be a "different version of YYZ" and something representing each province in Canada musically. So obviously Rush is Ontario.

Later that evening at around 9:30PM I independently posted the rumor as I'd heard it from my sources. I was not aware of the Counterparts post until after the fact, but the information was similar. At the time all I had heard was that they would be performing YYZ as part of a larger program showcasing Canadian music. The actual performance did indeed include a segment representing different geographical areas of Canada, which lends credence to the validity of the original rumors as reported here and on Counterparts.

A commercial then aired the following evening on February 5th during NBC's Saturday Night Live promoting the network's Olympic coverage. In the commercial it was mentioned that the opening ceremony performers would include Bryan Adams, Nelly Furtado and Sarah McLachlan which later proved to be an accurate but not complete list. Rush was not mentioned but neither were other some of the other performers (K. D. Lang for instance).

A few days later I updated my original post noting the fact that the Headline Talent Producer for the games is Samuel Leon Feldman who happens to represent Rush:

Headline Talent Producer: Samuel Leon Feldman

Through two different companies, Sam Feldman represents more than 175 musical artists such as Nelly Furtado, Rush, Joni Mitchell and Elvis Costello. Feldman is also a partner in The Characters Talent Agency, representing Canadian actors such as Molly Parker and Ryan Reynolds.

At the time this seemed to bolster the chances that Rush might be involved. In hindsight I should also note that Joni Mitchell (also represented by Feldman) singing Both Sides Now served as the soundtrack to the portion of the show celebrating the Plains of Canada.

Dress rehearsals for the show at BC Place began the Monday prior to opening ceremony and the organizers were keeping very tight-lipped about everything. No reports of any Rush spottings leaked out but that didn't necessarily rule them out according to this BCLocalNews article:

... Not all the performers were there in person - there were some lip-synching stand-ins, including a performance of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." ... The lighting of the Olympic cauldron wasn't part of the dress rehearsal - secrets such as how it's lit and other surprises are being withheld for the actual night. ...

So up until this point all we had were vague rumors. Then the Canadian Press published this article on Thursday, February 3rd - the day prior to the ceremony which seemed to all but confirm Rush's involvement:

In an age where news travels as fast as a sled hurtling down a skeleton track, the sustained secrecy surrounding Friday's opening ceremonies at the Vancouver Games is an Olympic feat in of itself.

Only in the past few days have small amounts of information dribbled out as Twitter-happy fans have leaked rehearsal information.

Recent reports indicate that Bryan Adams and Sarah McLachlan have been spotted rehearsing for the show.

Meanwhile, Rush and 16-year-old Montreal jazz singer Nikki Yanofsky also seem to be involved. A publicist for the veteran Toronto rock trio and Yanofsky herself both responded to questions from The Canadian Press with no-comments, citing non-disclosure agreements.

"NDA, non-disclosure, we're not allowed to say anything," Yanofsky said when asked if she would perform. ...

Nikki Yanofsky did of course end up performing Canada's National Anthem at the ceremony while Rush obviously did not perform. So rather than say no, Rush's publicist said no comment citing a non-disclosure agreement according to the Canadian Press. I took this as the closest thing to a confirmation we were going to get considering all the secrecy surrounding the event, as did several other news sites and blogs such as People Magazine, BW&BN, Power Windows, Cygnus-X1, etc. I've verified with Anthem that Rush were in fact bound by an NDA, which in the very least means that they were approached to perform by VANOC.

Early on the Friday of the opening ceremony my source reported to me that both Closer to the Heart and YYZ had been heard playing repeatedly at the venue late Thursday night. This prompted me to update my post saying that Rush may be playing Closer to the Heart tonight as well. Then that evening prior to the show I heard a report that BBC America had shown Alex and Geddy at BC Place stating We have been informed Rush are to perform sometime tonight with their 70s classic hit Closer To The Heart. I still can't find any independent reference to this online. So if the BBC America report was accurate, Geddy and Alex were at least at the venue Friday night although I haven't been able to get any confirmation of that either. Then came the actual ceremony itself. Just like the rumors had reported, the show contained a series of segments celebrating each major geographic region of Canada, but the Ontario region (Canada's most populous) was curiously not represented. Toward the end of the ceremonies, I received the following information from my source:

... What I'm now hearing is that [the Ontario portion] of the show was scrubbed due to the nature of today's tragic events. Apparently it had a full rock and roll metropolitan vibe to it and was cut for sensitivity. The word is now that Rush may tentatively play at the closing ceremony. ...

The tragic event being the death of Georgian luge slider Nodar Kumaritashvili earlier in the day. Four days after the fact there has still been no official word of any kind regarding whether Rush was ever scheduled to perform, whether they were scheduled but got cut, whether they weren't scheduled to perform but Rush music would be used, etc. We also don't know whether they will be involved with any of the victory ceremonies or closing ceremony, although it seems unlikely at this point. This article at (thanks John at seems to suggest that Rush will be involved in one of the victory ceremonies:

... On Friday, February 19th, Theory of a Deadman will be joining the ranks of Sarah MacLachlan, Rush, Nelly Furtado, Barenaked Ladies and many other artists given the honor of performing in 'The Victory Concert Series.' ...

But that would contradict this official list of victory ceremony performers released back on December 9th which lists INXS as performing on Ontario night.

Hopefully this gives people a better idea of the origins of the rumor, how it propagated, and where things stand currently. Unfortunately we still have no official word on this and likely won't for a while given the fact that Rush is bound by an NDA. I'll continue to share any new information I obtain.

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