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Legendary Sound Man Russell ‘Skip’ Gildersleeve Dies at 57

Russell Skip Gildersleeve

Russell “Skip” Gildersleeve, a longtime fixture on the concert scene who lent his skills as a road crew member and sound engineer to a long list of acts that included Bob Seger, Steely Dan, and Rush, has died at the age of 57.

Gildersleeve was arguably best known for his tenure with Rush, which lasted from 1975-97 and found him serving as Geddy Lee‘s bass technician while handling a number of other jobs. At one point in the mid-’80s, Gildersleeve even sat in on a track recorded by the band’s ‘side project’ Jack Secret, contributing to the song ‘Tough Break.’

While the cause of death is currently unknown, the Rush Is a Band site reports that Gildersleeve’s death has been confirmed by a number of separate sources, and quotes a passage about him from the 2006 Rush biography, ‘Chemistry.’ “He was brought in for the ‘Caress of Steel’ tour to replace Jimmy Johnson, and he often used to introduce the band,” it reads. “Skip, a.k.a. ‘Slider,’ became Geddy’s bass technician, and by ‘Counterparts’ he graduated to a stage management role…Skip is [a] mean guitar player himself. He guested on Japanese artist Venus Fly Trapp’s debut CD ‘Shakunetsu’, which means ‘red heat.’”

Gildersleeve’s friend Kim Maki, a writer and promoter who made his acquaintance several years ago, has published a lovely tribute to him at her site that recounts his many acts of quiet kindness and adds, “The great news is Skip lived his life doing exactly what he loved. Makes it a bit easier to say so long to him. He always had some cool gig coming up. Everyone whose lives he touched loved him…he defined Detroit Rock, and to me such generosity of spirit. I loved you, Skip…K.”

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