I know what you are thinking: “Denny … you know that those are DUDES, right?”
Well, way back when I was a progressive rock/heavy metal teen, one of the bands I liked was RUSH – the subject of this special kimonos post.
One of the stories in the great Rush “rockumentary” – “Beyond The Lighted Stage” is the anecdote of how the band came to wear kimono robes as part of their stage show. Rush were a great hard rock power trio, and their working-class fans were a “T-shirt and jeans” crowd. (Include me in that.) Geddy Lee also said in BTLS that he might have preferred to just wear jeans and T-shirts onstage, but the record company wanted them to have an “image”. Rush toured with KISS and other bands who had all kinds of crazy costumes. The group was assigned to find a “look”.
The members wondered what type of stage get-ups they might wear, in order to look like “rock stars”. One day while they were on a concert tour, they visited a shopping district where shops sold “ethnic” goods. A Japanese shop had kimono-robes — and the rest is history.
The kimono-robes looked somewhat “futuristic” I suppose, which would fit with their sci-fi “2112” rock epic. I’ve noticed on many episodes of “Star Trek” and the like, that people from all these advanced civilizations on other planets always wear ROBES. Why the robes? Does wearing a robe make you smarter? Does it show that you are technologically and philosophically advanced? Maybe in the utopian future, people are so used to robots doing all the work that they are just too lazy to find pants. Or is it that in the future only dumb people will wear jeans? (Cough) … but I digress.
Thus this explains the Rush kimono period. I know what you are going to ask: “Denny, were these ridiculous outfits scoffed at?” Of course! … and this despite being the “glam rock” period of the 1970s with its ridiculous androgyny trend.
During the BTLS doc, Geddy Lee tells a great story about he was always made fun of by the heavy metal group UFO (link here in new window). The guys in UFO considered the kimonos “effeminate” and would call them ladies bathrobes. Lee also said that the UFO dudes would sarcastically (and in a fem-voice) would call Geddy Lee “Glee” as in “Oh, Glee are you ready for your bath now …”. UFO would open for Rush, and they would nail pink ladies bath slippers to Geddy Lee’s microphone stand. “Oh, you forgot your slippers … GLEE …”
You can get a good look at the Rush robes in this performance of “Farewell to Kings”. I actually bought this LP record, the week it came out in 1978. Oy.
Rush Kimonos made a return in 2012, but fortunately not on the guys. Although this young lady is not in Rush, she was part of the stage show for Rush’s “Clockwork Angels” 2013 tour. The group had a much more elaborate “Steampunk”-type stage show than earlier years.
This is an example of the “Steampunk kimonos” the ladies in the orchestra wore. The kimono looks amazing! (Full concert linked here.)
Starlight: From the first time I heard “Check out this Rush album”?
… the light will have now reached star Rho Cancri (which has 3 planets) and would also have reached star HR3259 (which has 4 planets).
KEEP ROCKIN’ IN THOSE ROBES SPACE DUDES!!!
Comments on: "KIMONOS ON MONDAY: The “Kimonos Era” of RUSH." (10)
My foster brother John was in Rush b4 it took off and also his wife Joan wanted to start a family. 🙂
I heard that he had an illness, and forgive me if I am not exactly correct, but he passed away a few years ago?
Yes John Rutsey had some serious diabetes issues (combined with a drinking life style for some time) made it impossible for the band to allow him on tour … Rutsey passed away early 2008
He played on “Working Man” from the first record. Oddly, the song was used in “The Wimpy Kid” last movie.
Really? I saw that movie.
They aren’t kimonos, they are what men wore and they are called haori.
Look up Japanese history. The guys in UFO are/were ignorant ass holes.
Japanese history/language was my minor to my major in music in college.
Geddy tells the story better than I. You may have seen it, the roc doc “Beyond the Lighted Stage” is still streaming on Netflix.
[…] artistically, lyrically—even if the critics wanted to paint him and his bandmates as kimono-wearing, Tolkien-reading, sci-fi nerds forever. He said once in an interview, “Our integrity is not for sale, our art is. It costs […]
[…] it’s an obligatory picture to take. In the Rush fandom, one of the favourite looks is the Kimono look from the 2112 era. Before that, Rush didn’t really have much of a style and the record label wanted them to […]
I’m rocking a kimono right now listening to Something for Nothing. Kiss my ass, UFO.