posted on: Thursday January 30, 2020
by Daniel O’Neill ’21 A&E Staff
On Tuesday, January 7, Rush drummer and main lyricist Neil Peart passed away in Malibu, California. He was 67 years old and was battling a form of brain cancer called glioblastoma.
In 2015, Rush toured for the final time of their illustrious career. Peart decided to stop touring for good, as many years of methodically intense drumming finally took a toll on his body. He was privately battling cancer at that point in his life as well. It was time for him to throw in the towel.
Peart is considered to this day to be one of the greatest drummers in rock and roll music history. He was extremely detailed in how he revolutionized the art of drumming. Peart constantly pushed boundaries with his massive drum sets on stage. In 1974, he joined the band Rush alongside lead singer and bassist Geddy Lee and guitarist Alex Lifeson. The band had already released a self-titled album at the time, so his arrival to the group was the missing piece that the band needed. Rush saw incredible success, especially in their home country of Canada.
Many fans feel that a part of Canada is lost with the death of Peart. He defined rock drumming since he came to fame. He was known as a virtuoso in the rock world, not only because of his drumming skills, but also for his lyricism and its heavy literary influence. Early on, Peart used different science fiction novels as inspiration, and sometimes even political commentaries. Towards the end, however, the lyrics he wrote would be more focused on his emotions and personal stories. His drums quickly set the band apart from everyone else, due to his ability to create fills and solos that were their own masterpieces.
The most famous example of this is “Tom Sawyer” off of their most successful album Moving Pictures because of Neil Peart’s dramatic drum solo following Lifeson’s guitar solo. It is coined as one of the greatest drum solos in rock and roll history. Peart left a mark on the industry by adding a bit of complication and chaos to drumming. He trained with multiple instructors to help hone his techniques in the later years of his career, most notably with Freddie Gruber, a legendary jazz drummer.
Not many rock drummers look for a teacher while they are in their career. Peart stepped out of the box to solidify his position as one of the most sophisticated and crafty musicians of all time. He incorporated his impressive and incredible skill as a drummer with his ability to tell real stories that caused real feelings in other people. He did not try to stoop to the level of other mainstream rock bands. He wrote about things that connected Rush and regular people. Peart lived his life to the fullest, and his legacy will never die because of this. Rush will live on in the hearts of rock and roll fans forever.