Rush singer Geddy Lee plays Tom Sawyer on Murdoch Mysteries

Geddy Lee, lead singer of the progressive rock band Rush, said yes to Yannick Bisson when the Murdoch Mysteries star asked him to come by the set and hang out sometime. Somehow, Lee ended up making a guest appearance on the show.

Lee was at a charity event when Bisson invited him to drop by for a visit. We got to talking, “And, here I am,” said Lee, during a break from filming on set. That’s how he ended up in an episode of the CBC’s long-running TV series.

The character Lee plays in Murdoch Mysteries introduces himself as Thomas Sawyer, a carriage driver who escorts Detective Murdoch (Bisson) and a pregnant Dr. Julia Ogden, played by Helene Joy, for a relaxing retreat in Muskoka. Rush fans will get the significance of his name immediately. It’s no coincidence that the title of one of Rush’s most well-known songs is Tom Sawyer, from their multiplatinum-selling album Moving Pictures, released 41 years ago.

Apparently, fans have been asking for Lee — who is a music Hall of Fame inductee in both Canada and the United States — to appear on the late 1800s-early 1900s period drama.

After a minor accident on the way to Muskoka, Sawyer suggests that they take shelter in a nearby cabin. This stop allows Lee to be present for the most anticipated Murdoch event of the season.

Lee wears the heck out of a plaid vintage coat and top hat, his usual round-frame glasses, jazzman’s goatee, and his already well-suited long hair parted in the centre for this character. But, his acting will never catch up to his musicianship.

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Nonetheless, it’s still an amazing spectacle to see him in this role. It builds up some buzz and excitement around the show that has been on TV for years and adds some fun for their loyal following. There are lines like, “Well, I have written a song or two in my time,” from Sawyer, that hint at his real persona for those who don’t recognize him right away, or add a bit of humour for those who do.

In the preview of the episode called Devil Music, one of the constables can be seen holding a leaflet with Lead Belly written on it. Lead Belly was a well-known folk and blues singer of African heritage from the southern United States who is also know for performing his way into an early release from prison. Knowing Lee’s taste in music and his knowledge of music, the possibility is great that the idea to include the songwriter-guitarist born in the 1880s was his. Fans of Lee’s music will be able to spot references that relate to him and his legendary band Rush throughout the episode, which aired on March 21.

Lee has played himself in dozens of music videos, award shows, documentaries about Rush, the Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind documentary, even in a couple of fictional TV series How I Met Your Mother, and Chicago Fire. His only appearance in character before this was in the TV movie Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town (2012) where he played Fred.

by Cherryl Bird – Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Twitter @ladycbird | Instagram @cherrylbird

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