Rock and Roll lost a legend this past week when drummer Neil Peart of Rush died at age 67 from brain cancer. Peart joined band members Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson in 1974 when he replaced original drummer John Rutsey who left the band following the release of the first album. Neil Peart recorded eighteen studio albums with Lee and Lifeson over a forty-four year history with the band, and following fourteen years of debate from 1998-2012, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Rush bandmates in December of 2012. Oddly, the debate was by no means related to their popularity nor record sales but said to be due to their genre classification as a progressive rock band, go figya.
Neil Peart was a master of his trade, and an orchestrator of drums and percussion. His colossal drum kits included a wide variety of percussion instruments beyond standard drums which he tastefully injected into his drum parts both in the studio as well as live on stage. Having seen Rush in concert, I can say that his drum solos were by far some of the most amazing displays of modern drumming that I have ever seen. Peart is said to have been influenced by such rock and roll drummer legends as Keith Moon of The Who, Ginger Baker of Cream, John Bonham of Led Zeppelin, and studio legend Carmine Appice who has played for everyone from Ozzy Osbourne to Rod Stewart.
Peart was also Rush’s primary lyricist having wrote the lyrics to songs which have accounted for some twenty-four gold and fourteen platinum records throughout Rush’s four-decade history. He has also been referred to as one of rock and roll’s most accomplished lyricists. If anyone has ever read the lyrics to Rush’s songs, they are at times extraordinarily complex and well thought out. Having played in bands which have covered Rush’s material if conquering the drum parts weren’t hard enough for the some of the drummer’s I have played with, watching singers attempt the lyrical phrasing of their songs was even more entertaining. Particularly the song The Spirit of Radio from the 1980 Permanent Waves album.
Neil Peart fought off glioblastoma multiforme also known as GBM. GBM is a malignant tumor which grows on the brain and it is the most aggressive and deadliest form of cancer. GBM is not one of the curable forms of cancer. When a patient is diagnosed with glioblastoma, they are generally given a three to twelve-month window to extend life if chemotherapy treatments are successful. Unfortunately, there are an extremely low percentage of patients who survive longer than three years following diagnosis. Neil Peart survived GBM for three and half years but sadly passed away on Tuesday January 7, 2020 in Santa Monica California.
(Shown Above) One of my favorite Neil Peart Drum Kits from the 2015 R40 Tour. We do not own the rights to this picture and image may be subject to copyright laws. Image credits belong to Andrew Olson http://andrewolson.com/ and it was originally taken by Joe Sokohl @mojoguzzi in Bristow VA.