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Guitar Gallows Bio Information - Alex Lifeson
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Alex Lifeson, OC (born Aleksandar Živojinović; August 27, 1953) is a Canadian musician, best known for his work as the guitarist of the Canadian rock band Rush. In the summer of 1968, Lifeson founded the band that would become Rush with friend and original drummer John Rutsey. He has been an integral member of the three-piece band ever since.

For Rush, Lifeson plays electric and acoustic guitars as well as other stringed instruments such as mandola, mandolin, and bouzouki. He also performs backing vocals in live performances, and occasionally plays keyboards and bass pedal synthesizers. During live performances, Lifeson, like the other members of Rush, performs real-time triggering of sampled instruments, concurrently with his guitar playing. The bulk of Lifeson's work in music has been with Rush, although Lifeson has contributed to a body of work outside of the band as well.
Aside from music, Lifeson is part owner of the Toronto restaurant The Orbit Room, and is a licensed aircraft pilot.

Lifeson was born Aleksandar Živojinović in Fernie, British Columbia to Serbian immigrants, Nenad and Milka Zivojinovich (from Serbian: Живојиновић, Živojinović), and raised in Toronto, Ontario. His assumed stage name of "Lifeson" is a semi-literal translation of the name "Zivojinovich", which means "son of life" in Serbian. His first exposure to formal music training came in the form of the viola, which he renounced for the guitar at the age of 12. His first guitar was a Christmas gift from his father, a six-string Kent classical acoustic which was later upgraded to an electric Japanese model. During his adolescent years, he was influenced primarily by Jimi Hendrix, Pete Townshend, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page. In 1963 Lifeson met future Rush drummer John Rutsey in school. Both interested in music, they decided to form a band. Lifeson was primarily a self-taught guitarist with the only formal instruction coming from a high school friend in 1971 who taught classical guitar lessons. This training lasted for roughly a year and a half.

Lifeson recalls what inspired him to play guitar in a 2008 interview:

"My brother-in-law played flamenco guitar. He lent his guitar to me and I grew to like it. When you're a kid, you don't want to play an accordion because it would be too boring. But your parents might want you to play one, especially if you're from a Yugoslavian family like me."

Lifeson's first girlfriend, Charlene, gave birth to their eldest son, Justin, in October 1970, and they married in 1975. Their second son, Adrian, who is also involved in music, performed on two tracks from Lifeson's 1996 solo project, Victor. As of March 2010, they are still married.

Lifeson is a founding member of the progressive rock band Rush. His neighbor John Rutsey began experimenting on a rented drum kit and, in early 1968, Lifeson and Rutsey formed The Projection, which eventually became Rush following the recruitment of original bassist/vocalist Jeff Jones. Geddy Lee assumed this role soon after.

Instrumentally, Lifeson is regarded as a guitarist whose strengths and notability rely primarily on signature riffing, electronic effects and processing, unorthodox chord structures, and a copious arsenal of equipment used over the years.[8][9][10] Despite his esteem, however, Lifeson is often regarded as being overshadowed by his bandmates due to Lee's on-stage multi-instrumental dexterity and Peart's status as a drummer.

For versatility, Lifeson was known to incorporate touches of Spanish and classical music into Rush's guitar-driven sound during the 1970s.

Rush was on hiatus for several years starting in 1997 owing to personal tragedies in Neil Peart's life, and Lifeson had not picked up a guitar for at least a year following those events. However, after some work in his home studio and on various side projects, Lifeson returned to the studio with Rush to begin work on 2002's Vapor Trails. Vapor Trails is the first Rush album since the 1970s to lack keyboards—as such, Lifeson used over 50 different guitars in what Shawn Hammond of Guitar Player called "his most rabid and experimental playing ever." Geddy Lee was amenable to leaving keyboards off the album due in part to Lifeson's ongoing concern about their use. Lifeson's approach to the guitar tracks for the album eschewed traditional guitar riffs and solos in favor of "tonality and harmonic quality."

During live performances, he is still responsible for cuing various guitar effects, the use of bass-pedal synthesizers and backing vocals.

While the bulk of Lifeson's work in music has been with Rush, Lifeson's first major outside work was his solo project, Victor, released in 1996. Victor was attributed as a self-titled work (i.e. Victor is attributed as the artist as well as the album title). This was done deliberately as an alternative to issuing the album explicitly under Lifeson's name.

Lifeson has also contributed to a body of work outside of his involvement with the band in the form of instrumental contributions to other musical outfits. He made a guest appearance on the Platinum Blonde album Alien Shores (1985) performing guitar solos on the songs "Crying Over You" and "Holy Water". Later, in 1990, he appeared on Lawrence Gowan's album, Lost Brotherhood to play guitar. In 1995, he guested on two tracks on Tom Cochrane's Ragged Ass Road album and then in 1996 on I Mother Earth's "Like a Girl" from the Scenery and Fish album. In 2006, Lifeson founded The Big Dirty Band, which he created for the purpose of providing original soundtrack material for Trailer Park Boys: The Movie. Lifeson jammed regularly with The Dexters (The Orbit Room house band from 1994-2004). Recently, Lifeson made a guest appearance on the 2007 album Fear of a Blank Planet by UK progressive rock band, Porcupine Tree, contributing a solo during the song 'Anesthetize'. He also appears on the 2008 album Fly Paper by Detroit progressive rockers, Tiles. He plays on the track "Sacred and Mundane". Outside of band related endeavors, Lifeson composed the theme for the first season of the science-fiction TV series Andromeda. He also produced 3 songs from the album Away from the Sun by 3 Doors Down.

In Rush's early career, Lifeson used a Gibson ES-335 for the first single and the first four Rush studio albums. For the 2112 tour, he used a 1974 Gibson Les Paul and Marshall amplification. For the A Farewell to Kings sessions, Lifeson began using a Gibson EDS-1275 for songs like Xanadu and his main guitar became a personally customized white Gibson ES-355. During this period Lifeson used Hiwatt amplifiers. For effects Lifeson used various phaser and flanger pedals, a Cry Baby Wah Wah, along with Marshall 100 watt Super Lead amplifiers and 4x12 cabinets. Beginning in the late 1970s, he increasingly incorporated twelve-string guitar (acoustic and electric) and used a Boss CE-1 Chorus Ensemble and later, the Boss Dimension C. By 1982 Lifeson's primary guitar was a modified Fender Stratocaster with a Bill Lawrence high-output humbucker L-500 in the bridge position and a Floyd Rose vibrato bridge. Lifeson increasingly relied on a selection of four identically modified Stratocasters from 1980 to 1986, all of them equipped with the Floyd Rose bridge. For the Moving Pictures and Signals albums, and on concurrent tours, Lifeson used up to four rare Marshall 4140 Club & Country 100W combo amps. In the mid 1980s Lifeson switched from vacuum tube to solid-state amplification, all with an increasingly thick layer of digital signal processing. He became an endorser of Gallien-Krueger and Dean Markley solid-state guitar amplifier lines and Dean Markley Blue Steel strings respectively, gauges .009-.046. In the late 1980s he switched to Carvin amplifiers in the studio. By 1987, Lifeson exclusively switched to using his Signature Guitar Co brand guitars onstage and in the studio. These guitars were most noted for generating his unique sound through the use of Evans single coil pickups wired to an onboard active preamp circuit. This enabled him to produce higher frequencies to "cut through" the heavy use and sounds of Geddy Lee's keyboards.

Lifeson primarily used PRS guitars during the recording of Roll The Bones in 1990/1991. When recording 1993's Counterparts, Lifeson continued to use PRS Guitars and Marshall amplifiers to record the album, and for the subsequent tour. Lifeson continued to use PRS along with Fender and Gibson guitars, Hughes & Kettner Triamp MK II and zenTera amplifiers and cabinets.

In 2005, Hughes & Kettner introduced an Alex Lifeson signature series amplifier with $50 from each amplifier sold will be donated to UNICEF.

For the 2007 Snakes & Arrows Tour, Lifeson replaced his PRS Guitars with Gibson Les Pauls. In a 2007 interview for Guitarist magazine, Lifeson states "I hear PRS on everything these days and I wanted a little bit of a change ... I love them [PRS] but they have a smaller sound than the bigger heavier Gibsons ... I just wanted to be more traditional."[citation needed] He has Fishman Aura piezoelectric pickup systems installed into his Les Pauls to model acoustic guitar sounds without changing guitars. As of July 2008, Lifeson uses Floyd Rose tremolos on his main Les Pauls. He has also replaced his Hughes & Kettner zenTera amp heads with Switchblade heads (which, like the zenTeras, include built-in programmable digital effects, such as chorus and delay, but use vacuum tubes instead of transistors) for the amplification circuits, while retaining his signature series H&K Triamp heads. His effects for the 2007 tour include a TC Electronics G-Force rack multi-FX, a TC Electronics 1210 spatial expander and a Loft 440 Delay Line/Flanger, as well as the effects built into his Switchblade heads.

Along with his bandmates Geddy Lee and Neil Peart, Lifeson was made an Officer of the Order of Canada on May 9, 1996. The trio was the first rock band to be so honored, as a group. On May 1, 2007, Rush released Snakes & Arrows, their eighteenth full-length studio album. Lifeson and the band followed up the album with the Snakes & Arrows Tour.

Lifeson's first girlfriend, Charlene, gave birth to their eldest son, Justin, in October 1970, and they married in 1975. Their second son, Adrian, who is also involved in music, performed on two tracks from Lifeson's 1996 solo project, Victor. As of March 2010, they are still married.