Legendary Rush Drummer Neil Peart Dead at Age 67
Joe DiVita January 10, 2020
Rolling Stone confirmed the drummer’s death with a representative for the band and Peart family spokesperson Elliot Mintz stated that the drummer was fighting brain cancer for the last three years.
Peart joined the Canadian progressive rock trio in 1974 following the release of the band’s self-titled debut album. In addition to serving as the group’s drummer ever since, he was also the chief lyricist within Rush.
Peart was born on Sept. 12, 1952 in Ontario, Canada and went on to join Rush at the age of 22, making his debut with the band on their 1975 album Fly By Night. He immediately made an impact on the group, as evidencing by his raucous style heard on the title track. He’d eventually drift away from this thundering hard rock style, which was very much in vein of Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham and The Who’s Keith Moon, who, at that point, had represented the apex of wild-man rock drumming.
Pulling in outside influences such as jazz, Peart’s style became increasingly more progressive, as did Rush’s sound by 1976 when they released the epic 2112, which opened with the 20-minute title track which featured seven movements.
This episodic style would come to dominate their ensuing ’70s records, tempering these brainy pieces with shorter, more traditional styled songs that demonstrated Rush were adept at composing incredibly complex pieces as well as more straight-ahead rock songs.
While Geddy Lee doubled as bassist and singer, it was Peart’s words — which touched on everything from science fiction to fantasy to philosophy — that he was singing. These thought-provoking lyrics doubled down on Rush’s highly progressive edge, cementing themselves as one of prog rock’s penultimate artists.
Even when Rush’s sound gained more commercial appeal during the ’80s, Peart’s intensely progressive style remained unswayed, which was the secret sauce to the band’s sound — they were able to appeal to the musical elite and those tuning into the radio in search of easily digestible hit songs.
In total, he played on 18 of Rush’s 19 studio albums, the last being Clockwork Angels, which was released in 2012.
Neil Peart’s influence on modern drumming in all aspects of heavy music can never be understated and his name will forever be synonymous with the title of “legend.”
Rest in peace, Neil Peart.
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