Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Geddy Lee celebrates the bass in his new book Big Beautiful Book of Bass.

HarperCollins

In Between the Acts, The Globe and Mail takes a look at how artists manage their time before and after a creative endeavour.

It doesn’t get the attention and glory that the electric six-string does, but without the electric bass, rock 'n’ roll loses its roll. With the handsome coffee-table tome Geddy Lee’s Big Beautiful Book of Bass, Geddy Lee of the legendary-but-now-retired progressive rock trio Rush celebrates the under-regarded instrument and his own substantial collection of them. Lee spoke to The Globe and Mail recently about the book, a passion project that consumed two years of his life.

Photographing 250 instruments is a big task. The advantage we had over other beautiful guitar books out there is that we were able to have all these instruments under one roof. Richard Sibbald, who did the photography, and I worked closely together. My wife gave him a part of the house to transform into a proper photo studio. He was up there for at least eight months, on and off, shooting. He ended up with about 26,000 images, which we cut down to about a thousand for the final book.

The project was similar to putting together a documentary. I worked closely with my co-writer Daniel Richler on this. We did research together. We ironed out every phrase together. Obviously he wanted it to be in my voice. So I did the writing, and he would supply the wordsmanship to help me express myself correctly.

Then, of course, you have the whole design phase, where we worked very closely with Harper Collins in New York and an independent designer, Paul Kepple, from Philadelphia. It was very hands on. I’m a pretty opinionated guy. I had a vision in mind, and so we went back and forth for months, making sure we were happy with it, by their standards and by my standards.

I’m a collector by nature, and I document my madness in the book about the various things I’ve become passionate about. But I wasn’t really a collector of bass guitars initially. They were tools for me to help me develop my own identity as a bass player, with his own bass sound. I only focused on instruments that would achieve that goal for me.

When I actually did start collecting bass guitars, I looked at it very differently. I was learning about the evolution of the instrument. I began to realize that the bass was an underappreciated musical invention. Take the bass away from many of our favourite pop songs and rock songs and we lose a layer of melody. We lose the glue that very often holds a rhythm section together. There are so many things a bass guitar can do for a song, that unless you’re a bass player or someone focused on the nether regions of a song, you miss that. So, I thought there’s nothing out there in the world of books that spoke to that. First, that spoke to how beautiful these pieces of mid-century art can be. Secondly, this was an opportunity to review the importance of the instrument in the terms of how rock 'n' roll grew up.

The first interview I did was the toughest. It was in a London restaurant with [former Rolling Stones bassist] Bill Wyman. He’s a fascinating cat, and he wants to talk about all his interests. We sat down for a few hours, and I learned so much about the guy. But he didn’t want to talk about bass guitars – not so interesting for him. So, I had to keep bringing him back into the whole point of why I was there with him.

[Led Zeppelin bassist] John Paul Jones was a consummate gentleman and very considerate. He came to my flat in London and he wouldn’t even let me pay for his taxi. And he schlepped his basses himself.

Story continues below advertisement

This project introduced me to a wider world, and gave me some communication with people I naturally have so much community with. This magnificent obsession of mine has taken up a good part of the last two years. Now that I’ve finished the book, and once I finish what I like to refer to as my shameless promotion tour, then I will get more serious about using these beautiful instruments that I’ve been squirrelling away.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies