Watch Rush Shred Through “La Villa Strangiato” at the Pinkpop Festival in 1979


Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson was born on this day in 1953. In honor of Lifeson’s 64th birthday, check out this rare footage of Rush performing the instrumental workout “La Villa Strangiato” at the Pinkpop Festival in the Netherlands on June 4, 1979.

Lifeson severely injured a finger a few nights prior to Pinkpop—at the beginning of the clip you can hear the guitarist explain, “I just was foolish and hit it”—which led to three cancelled shows. As evidenced by the performance here, however, his digit was back in fine form by the day of Rush’s set at the festival.

In 2012 Lifeson spoke with Guitar World about “La Villa Strangiato,” which appeared on the band’s 1978 album, Hemispheres: “We wrote this one on the road,” he explained. “We used our soundchecks to run through songs that we were going to record; then, when we would have a few days off we’d start recording. This song was recorded in one take, with all of us in the same room. We had baffles up around the guitar, bass and drums, and we would look at each other for the cues. My solo in the middle section was overdubbed after we recorded the basic tracks. I played a solo while we did the first take and rerecorded it later. If you listen very carefully, you can hear the other solo ghosted in the background. That was a fun exercise in developing a lot of different sections in an instrumental. It gave everyone the chance to stretch out.

“By that time I had my ES-355, and my acoustics were a Gibson Dove, J-55 and a B-45 12-string. I had my Marshall in the studio. I had the Twin and two Hiwatts, which I was also using live, but the Marshall was my real workhorse. The Boss Chorus unit had just come out at that time, but I think I used a Roland JC-120 for the chorus sound here. Hemispheres was the first of many ‘chorus’ albums.”


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Richard Bienstock

Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.