Where did the baby name Geddy come from?

Geddy Lee of the band Rush (in 2004)
Geddy Lee of Rush

Last weekend, the Toronto Zoo announced that its three capybara pups would be named Geddy, Alex, and Neil in honor of Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart — the three members of Canadian progressive rock band Rush (known for songs like “Tom Sawyer” and “Limelight”).

This reminded me that, in the late 1970s and early ’80s — when Rush was a fixture on the U.S. Billboard charts — the name Geddy started appearing in the U.S. baby name data:

  • 1984: 9 baby boys named Geddy
  • 1983: unlisted
  • 1982: 14 baby boys named Geddy
  • 1981: unlisted
  • 1980: unlisted
  • 1979: 5 baby boys named Geddy [debut]
  • 1978: unlisted

Vocalist Geddy Lee was born Gary Lee in Toronto in 1953 to parents Morris and Manya Weinrib, Holocaust survivors from Poland. Here’s how the name “Gary” morphed into the name “Geddy”:

“Okay, it’s like the same story of Leave it to Beaver. The story goes: my mother is Polish and she has a very thick accent. When I was about twelve years old, I had a friend who, whenever he heard my mother pronounce my name, he thought she was calling me, ‘Geddy.’ He started calling me ‘Geddy,’ and eventually, all of my friends started calling me ‘Geddy,’ and eventually my mother started to call me ‘Geddy,’ for real. And eventually, I changed my name legally to ‘Geddy,’ so that’s the story and that’s my name, Geddy.”

If you were having a son, and you had to name him either Gary or Geddy, which would you choose? Why?

Update, Feb. 2024: Here’s a paragraph from the prologue of Geddy Lee’s memoir My Effin’ Life (which was published late last year):

You probably know me as Geddy Lee, but my birthname was Gershon Eliezer Weinrib, after my maternal grandfather who was murdered in the Holocaust. As per tradition, my mom, her sister and her brother all named their first-born male children in his honour; my two cousins and I, all of us born within a couple of years of one another, were given that same first name, Gershon.

The name on his birth certificate, however, is Gary Lee Weinrib — the “English equivalent” of his Jewish name.


Image: Adapted from Geddy Lee Milan 2004 (public domain) by Enrico Frangi

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