Neil Peart, the drumming fulcrum and lyrical voice of legendary Canadian progressive-rock outfit Rush has passed. Rolling Stone reports that Peart had succumbed to aggressive brain cancer at age 67.
Rush’s official account later shared the news, asking fans to donate to a cancer research group or charity of their choosing and signing off with “rest in peace brother.”
Neil Peart September 12, 1952 – January 7, 2020 pic.twitter.com/NivX2RhiB8
— Rush (@rushtheband) January 10, 2020
“Neil was a force,” says Coheed And Cambria drummer Josh Eppard in an email to AP. “He helped shape so many drummers, young and old, his passing will be felt forever. This is a devastating loss: Our sincere condolences to the Peart family and his Rush family.”
Peart replaced original Rush drummer John Rutsey after the release of their 1974 self-titled debut album. Since the release of the band’s 1975 album Caress Of Steel, Peart not only assisted in raising the trio’s high musicianship, he was also responsible for much of the band’s lyrics, as well. His work with the band encompasses 19 studio albums and 11 live releases. He was also a prolific writer whose 2002 memoir Ghost Rider: Travels On The Healing Road was acclaimed by both stans of his band and literary fans.
In the 2010 Rush documentary film, Beyond The Lighted Stage, it was revealed the band had fans from various music realms. From arena metal types like Skid Row (Sebastian Bach) to alternative rock royalty (Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, Danny Carey of Tool, Jimmy Chamberlain of Smashing Pumpkins) to at least one emo pillar (Jason McGerr of Death Cab For Cutie), Rush and Peart’s scope of influence is both legendary and unparalleled.
“Today the world lost a true giant in the history of rock ‘n’ roll,” says Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl. “An inspiration to millions with an unmistakable sound who spawned generations of musicians (like myself) to pick up two sticks and chase a dream. A kind, thoughtful, brilliant man who ruled our radios and turntables not only with his drumming, but also his beautiful words.
“I still vividly remember my first listen of 2112 when I was young. It was the first time I really listened to a drummer. And since that day, music has never been the same. His power, precision, and composition was incomparable. He was called ‘The Professor’ for a reason: We all learned from him. Thank you, Neil for making our lives a better place with your music. You will be forever remembered and sorely missed by all of us. And my heartfelt condolences to the Rush family. God bless Neal Peart.”
“As a kid, there was only one drum poster that I had up on my wall,” says Death Cab For Cutie‘s McGerr. “It was the Neal Peart poster from the mid ’80s with him standing behind his drum kit. His two bass drum pedals read ‘PUMP 1’ and ‘PUMP 2.’ He was what everybody should strive to be: unique and creative.
“[His playing] taught me that you didn’t have to play straight time,” continues McGerr. “You could be creative with time: You could play a drum solo over the bar. When I heard the whole Moving Pictures album, it was like someone came up with a whole new language, a different vocabulary. Neal and the big kit and the creative approach stepped outside of the traditional timekeeper approach. He played with other fearless people and they all took turns stepping up.” He pauses briefly. “Farewell to the king.”
Our thoughts are not only with Peart’s family and close friends, but also with the myriad of drummers who were influenced by him, as well as those who were inspired by his lyrics. He leaves a body of work that will continue to transcend generations. To that end, here’s Peart throwing it down on The Late Show With David Letterman, first broadcast in 2011.