"Geddy didn't understand what a blues scale was." Gene Simmons recalls the time he gave Rush's Geddy Lee a bass lesson on tour

Geddy Lee and Gene Simmons
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Kiss' Gene Simmons has recalled the time he gave Rush's Geddy Lee an impromptu bass lesson while their bands were on tour together.

While it's hard to imagine Lee being schooled on his musicianship, with his skills  having cemented him as one of the greatest bass players in rock music, Simmons reveals how the Rush axe-slinger actually had some blind spots when it came to musical theory back when his band were first starting out.

During a conversation with Ultimate Guitar about how to go about teaching someone to play an instrument as someone who doesn't know how to read or write music, Simmons lists off a variety of famous musicians who don't know how to either, including John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Jimi Hendrix and Buddy Rich.

Recalling the time he offered a few bass tips to Lee, he explains: "I'll tell you a telling story. KISS took out Rush on their first tour. They came out to support us, you know, because we liked what they did. And this was in the, in their Working Man period, when they sounded kind of like a Canadian Zeppelin, which I still prefer, sound-wise, but obviously, they've done very well, and we used to hang out with the guys and joke around everything.

"One night back at the hotel or backstage someplace, Geddy [Lee] and I were sitting down, trading licks, and I said, 'Do you want to do a blues scale? You go first, and then I'll continue the chord pattern,' and he said, 'I don't know what you mean.' At least from what I recall, Geddy didn't understand what a blues scale was or what '1,4,5' meant. That also bears noting that when you go '1,4,5' to a musician, that means something, it's a relationship of notes or chords," he continues.

"So I go, 'Well, okay then, you hit a G, either octave or low,' and he said, 'Which one is that?' Geddy played purely by ear. Now of course later on, he learned what the notes were and stuff like that".

Noting how U2's guitarist also used to be technically inefficient in certain musical areas, he adds: "It's the same thing with The Edge. The reason you heard 'jingle jangle jingle jangle,' kind of thing — that became the style of U2's guitar sound is when The Edge started playing guitar in a band, he couldn't play chords.

"He just strummed various notes so, it's all open to ... Music is an interesting thing. You don't have to get complex about it, just start."

Kiss' final ever world tour is set to culminate in two shows at Madison Square Garden in December.

Liz Scarlett

Liz works on keeping the Louder sites up to date with the latest news from the world of rock and metal. Prior to joining Louder as a full time staff writer, she completed a Diploma with the National Council for the Training of Journalists and received a First Class Honours Degree in Popular Music Journalism. She enjoys writing about anything from neo-glam rock to stoner, doom and progressive metal, and loves celebrating women in music.