Published on January 18th, 2013 | by Alan Cross


The Real Story Behind Rush’s “Red Barchetta”

This story in a 1973 edition of Road & Track hardly looks like something that would inspire a Rush song–but it did.  

And while the story features an MGB, Neil Peart did take a little creative license by subbing in a Ferrari 16MM–a “red Barchetta”–in the lyrics.

What follows is the true tale of how that happened.

As most of you probably know, Neil is the drummer and lyricist for the rock and roll band Rush, and many experts consider him to be the best living drummer in the world. Michael is a private investigator from Los Angeles. He is also head of security whenever Rush is on tour, since Neil considers him to be the best P.I. in the world. As for me, well, I’m just the luckiest guy in the world. But let’s begin at the beginning…

Back in 1972, I was studying for my graduate school comprehensive exams. Suddenly, an idea for a fiction short story occurred to me, and I promptly started writing. The story, titled “A Nice Morning Drive,” was set in the distant future (1982!) and involved Modern Safety Vehicles (MSV’s) that could damage older, pre-safety-bumper cars without incurring any harm themselves. With a mixture of hope and presumption, I sent it off to Road & Track magazine–and they decided to publish it! (They even paid me $200, which was a lot of money back then, especially to a broke graduate student.)

Neil Peart, who had joined Rush a couple of years earlier and who has been a sports car enthusiast all his life, read the story.

Continue reading.

About the Author

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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