Rock Band Rush to Receive Allan Slaight Humanitarian Spirit Award

By Jamie Tennant 11/4/16 |

Rush's Geddy Lee, Neil Peart and Alex Lifeson — promo shot.
After 40 years, 40 million albums, and numerous Juno awards, Rush have become Canadian rock legends and next April Toronto’s Canadian Music Week will honour the band with the Allan Slaight Humanitarian Spirit Award.

"We are proud to be acknowledging Rush's legacy with the Allan Slaight Humanitarian Spirit Award," said CMW president and CEO Neill Dixon in a press statement. "We praise their spirit and determination in philanthropic and humanitarian causes, as their dedication to multiple charities and organizations is very inspirational. They have shown extraordinary support in social involvement and charitable causes, and we are excited to celebrate them at this year's awards."

During their monumental career, Rush — bassist/singer Geddy Lee, guitarist Alex Lifeson and drummer Neil Peart — have always used the privilege music and fame has afforded them to engage in social activism and humanitarian causes. The platinum-selling trio will be presented with the award at the annual Canadian Music & Broadcast Industry Awards Gala Dinner at the Sheraton Centre on April 20.

"We are so incredibly honoured to receive the Allan Slaight Humanitarian Spirit Award,” Rush said in a collective press statement. “The depth of Allan and [son] Gary Slaight's generosity, consideration and benevolence has no measure.  We will strive to carry forward their spirit of charity and goodwill."

The award is named for Allan Slaight, the Canadian music pioneer and Member of the Order of Canada who founded Standard Broadcasting, the country’s largest privately owned multi-media company. Slaight was chair of the United Way of Greater Toronto from 1979 to 1987; during that time, Rush performed their first benefit concert for the organization at Maple Leaf Gardens.

"My father Allan Slaight believes that giving back to one's community is something we should all strive to do and the members of Rush have made a point of this throughout their career, starting with a United Way benefit-concert at Maple Leaf Gardens in the early '80s when Allan was Chair of the Campaign," said Gary Slaight, president and CEO Slaight Communications Inc.

"In recent years, the group has raised money for food banks, Casey House, the Kidney Foundation, Doctors Without Borders, AIDS research; the list goes on. Alex, Geddy and Neil have been in my family's rock'n'roll life since the early days when we started Q107 in the late 1970s, and it gives me real pleasure today to thank these three exemplary musicians, on behalf of the Slaight Family, in awarding them with the Allan Slaight Humanitarian Award. Good deeds deserve acknowledgement and this is one group that exemplifies the spirit of giving."

Since 2010, Rush has donated $1 from every concert ticket they sell to various charities; in the last five years, the total funds raised will be over $2 million, according to the press release.

The list of causes supported by Rush — both collectively and as individuals — is as diverse as it is impressive. They have backed everything from AIDS research (amfAR) to Hurricane Katrina relief to Alberta Flood relief. Naturally, they have supported musical charities as well; they have been ardent patrons of Little Kids Rock, a non-profit organization that strives to improve music education programs in disadvantaged U.S. schools.

The individual members of the band each have their own interests as well. Lee has donated autographed baseballs to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum; Lifeson has donated paintings to raise funds for the Kidney Foundation; and Peart, moved by the story of miners trapped in Chile, wrote about his South American touring experience and asked readers to donate $1 for the Chilean Red Cross (donations he personally matched).

A documentary from their recent R40 Tour, Rush Time Stand Still (Anthem/Ole/Universal), narrated by Paul Rudd, will be released this month.

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* is an online magazine covering the good deeds of individuals, charities and businesses.