Iconic musician and most respected drummer of all time, Neil Peart has died at 67 from brain cancer on January 7, 2020 in Santa Monica, California. The Canadian lyricist and drummer of the band Rush has led an incredibly inspiring life that has influenced numerous musicians including Dave Grohl, Jack Black, and Billy Corgan, amongst numerous others, all of whom have reacted with great sadness to the legend’s passing.
The band has publicly stated on Twitter:
“It is with broken hearts and the deepest sadness that we must share the terrible news that on Tuesday our friend, soul brother and bandmate of over 45 years, Neil, has lost his incredibly brave three and a half year battle with brain cancer. We ask that friends, fans, and media alike understandably respect the family’s need for privacy and peach at this extremely painful and difficult time. Those wishing to express their condolences can choose a cancer research group or charity of their choice and make a donation in Neil’s name. Rest in peach brother.”
Peart will always be remembered as a legend and a one of kind star who had virtues unlike any other. Referred to jokingly as the “new guy” for 45 years by his bandmates Geddy Lee and Alex Lifseon, Peart joined Rush in 1974, six years after the band’s formation. He added a necessary level of complexity to the band’s music that elevated and established the progressive-rock genre and contributed greatly to the band’s eventual success. Peart wrote most of the band’s 167 songs and is known for his virtuosic lyrics and masterful, technical abilities on the drums. Peart was incredibly devoted to his craft. He knew classical music in and out. Peart was humble, remaining in the shadows of the limelight, and was resistant to receiving attention and adoration by his admirers. When other rock n’ roll stars indulged in carnal pleasures and vices, Peart and the rest of Rush were reading books. Peart even rode alone on his motorcycle to and from every Rush gig so that he could see different parts of the regions they were performing in and have contemplative time to himself.
His contributions to famed songs such as “Limelight,” “Tom Sawyer,” and “The Spirit of the Radio” were a monumental part of what makes Rush memorable today. His lyrics in the song “Subdivisions” resemble how Peart championed individuality and forward-thinking, making him an inspiration for so many: “Subdivisions, in the high school halls, in the shopping malls, conform or be cast out… Some will sell their dreams for small desires, or lose the race to rats, get caught in ticking traps, and start to dream of somewhere, to relax their restless flight.”
Peart’s music innovatively refers to literary elements and multi-dimensional ideas distinct to Rush’s style that is unlike any other band. Peart was truly an integral figure in setting apart the band in an industry with many bands that are simply reproductions of one another. Rush is anything but. Peart is predominately admired for his drum solos which stagger between multiple time signatures and deviate from traditional rhythms. Above all, Peart’s hand in Rush has impacted millions of listeners lives, to which he will always be remembered and celebrated for.
Peart had lived a fulfilled life that was nowhere near short of tragedy. In 1997 Peart endured the spontaneous loss of his only daughter in a car accident and his wife’s death from cancer within a 10-month period. This prompted his 5-year long hiatus from the band, where he travelled by himself throughout North and South America on his motorcycle, resulting in his publication of his book Ghost Rider. He eventually met his wife in 2000 and had another daughter in 2009. Peart rejoined Rush in 2002. In 2013, Rush was finally inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, and nearly 2 years after, Rush announced their final tour, R40, marking Peart’s 40th year with the band. He retired in 2015 after the R40 tour due to arthritis. Since then, his battle with brain cancer has been concealed from the public.
The drummer will indefinitely be a special part of every Rush fan’s life and he will be honored with the highest regard.