Geddy Lee Looks Back on His Cameo on Bob & Doug McKenzie’s ‘Take Off’

For all the success Rush have had in their 40-plus-year career, the highest-charting single featuring a member wasn’t even one of theirs. In a new interview, Geddy Lee talked about his cameo vocal on “Take Off,” the hit single by Bob and Doug McKenzie, the characters created by Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas during their days on SCTV.

“That was so fun,” he told the A.V. Club. “I knew one of the guys from public school. Rick Moranis and I went to school together when we were really little. For about six years in a row, we were in the same class. And then when he was getting involved in that whole Bob and Doug thing, and it was really starting to become successful, they wanted to do this sort of pop song, and they naturally thought of me, which was nice.”

“Take Off,” embedded above, appeared on the McKenzie brothers’ 1981 album, The Great White North. The song, which reached No. 16 on the Billboard Hot 100, features the characters trading barbs back-and-forth while Lee appears in the chorus. Its spontaneous nature, according to Lee, was part of the plan.

“I went down to the studio and we put that together in 15 minutes or something,” he continued. “It was really just off-the-cuff. The producer said, ‘Here’s the lyrics—have a go. The guys will be in a studio with you and you can just kibitz with them, and we’ll record everything.’ And [Moranis and Dave Thomas] were in character, and I was singing with a toque on.”

And since it’s the holiday season, we’d be remiss if we didn’t link to their version of the “The Twelve Days of Christmas” to get you into the proper mood.

Bob & Doug McKenzie – Take Off