Rush Nearly Lost the Only Copy of "Xanadu"

The master recording was chewed up by a tape machine during mixing

BY Alex HudsonPublished Feb 26, 2024

"Xanadu" is an iconic landmark in Rush's career, but the 11-minute epic was nearly lost forever when the only copy of the master recording got chewed up in a tape machine.

Rush captured the song during the sessions for their 1977 album A Farewell to Kings, which was recorded in Wales at Rockfield Studios. After the recording was finished, they headed to London, UK's Advision Studios to mix — where "we came as close as we'd ever come to a true effin' disaster," singer-bassist Geddy Lee wrote in his memoir My Effin' Life, which came out back in November.

He recalled, "We were working on the mix for 'Xanadu' when the master tape machine stuttered on rewind and one spool got momentarily jammed. The tape billowed out and wrapped itself around the transport beneath the other spool as it spun. We all stopped breathing as we heard the only copy of the song crunching in the guts of the machine."

Producer Terry Brown then carefully took the tape out and examined every inch of it, and "found that, mercifully, it was badly creased by not torn."

From then on, Rush would always immediately make a copy of a recording — and "Xanadu" went on to become a landmark in Rush's career, marking their first significant foray into synthesizer music and being voted as their sixth-best song in a Rolling Stone fan poll in 2015.

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