Since the release of the band's self-titled debut album in March 1974, Rush has become known for its musicianship, complex compositions, and eclectic lyrical motifs drawing heavily on science fiction, fantasy, and philosophy. Rush's music style has changed over the years, beginning with blues-inspired heavy metal on their first album, then encompassing hard rock, progressive rock, and a period with heavy use of synthesizers. They have been cited as an influence by various musical artists, including Metallica, Primus, and The Smashing Pumpkins, as well as progressive metal bands such as Dream Theater and Symphony X.
Rush has won a number of Juno Awards, and was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1994. Over their careers, the members of Rush have been acknowledged as some of the most proficient players on their respective instruments, with each band member winning numerous awards in magazine readers' polls. As a group, Rush possesses 24 gold records and 14 platinum (3 multi-platinum) records. Rush's sales statistics place them third behind The Beatles and The Rolling Stones for the most consecutive gold or platinum studio albums by a rock band. Rush also ranks 79th in U.S. album sales, with 25 million units. Although total worldwide album sales are not calculated by any single entity, as of 2004 several industry sources estimated Rush's total worldwide album sales at over 40 million units.
The band finished the second leg of the Time Machine Tour in July 2011 and are expected to release their next studio album, Clockwork Angels in June 2012 with a supporting tour in the fall.
The original line-up formed in the neighbourhood of Willowdale in Toronto, Ontario, by Lifeson, bassist and front man Jeff Jones, and drummer John Rutsey. Within a couple of weeks of forming, and before their second performance, bassist and lead vocalist Jones was replaced by Geddy Lee, a schoolmate of Lifeson. After several line-up reformations, Rush's official incarnation was formed in May 1971 consisting of Lee, Lifeson, and Rutsey. The band was managed by local Toronto resident Ray Danniels, a frequent attendee of Rush's early shows.
After gaining stability in the line-up and honing their skills on the local bar/high school dance circuit, the band came to release their first single "Not Fade Away", a cover of the Buddy Holly song, in 1973. Side B contained an original composition, "You Can't Fight It", credited to Lee and Rutsey. The single generated little reaction and, because of record company indifference, the band formed their own independent record label, Moon Records. With the aid of Danniels and the newly enlisted engineer Terry Brown, the band released their self-titled debut album in 1974, which was considered highly derivative of Led Zeppelin. Rush had limited local popularity until the album was picked up by WMMS, a radio station in Cleveland, Ohio. Donna Halper, a DJ working at the station, selected "Working Man" for her regular play list. The song's blue collar theme resonated with hard rock fans and this new found popularity led to the album being re-released by Mercury Records in the U.S.