Legendary Rush Drummer, Neil Peart Has Passed Away Aged 67

Legendary Rush Drummer, Neil Peart Has Passed Away Aged 67

neil peart
Neil Peart from Rush, October 1979. Photo by Fin Costello/Redferns.

Tributes have been pouring in honouring legendary Rush drummer Neil Peart, who died on Tuesday (Jan 7) aged 67. He had been quietly battling brain cancer for over three years. 

The news was confirmed by his Rush bandmates Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson, who said in a statement: "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 incredible brave three and a half year battle with brain cancer (glioblastoma). We ask that friends, fans, and media alike understandably respect the family's need for privacy and peace 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 peace brother."

The Canadian drummer is regarded as one of the all-time greatest and is best known for his lengthy and inventive drum solos. He joined in Rush in 1974 and helped make the trio one of classic rock's essential bands with his flamboyant blend of big band and jazz, bringing on a progressive rock revolution with a new kind of drumming that would influence musicians for decades to come. His drum fills on songs like “Tom Sawyer” were pop hooks in their own right.

Rush | “Tom Sawyer”

Peart was also a talented lyricist, bringing his technical prowess and his philosophical approach to words referencing everything from classic literature to science fiction. The drummer’s first major lyrical contributions came on the band’s second album, Fly by Night (1975) for which he penned six of the eight tracks. He remained Rush’s primary lyricist throughout the band’s career, creating dynamic imagery around topics as varied as politics, mythology and romance.

Rush released 19 studio albums, selling more than 40m units worldwide. They are ranked third, behind the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, for most consecutive gold or platinum albums by a rock band. They were nominated for multiple Grammy awards and 10 Juno awards, inducted in the Canadian Music Hall Of Fame in 1994 and the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2013. The band completed their final tour in 2015, following Peart’s decision to retire. 

Dave Grohl said in a statement to Rolling Stone: “Today, the world lost a true giant in the history of rock & roll,” “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.”

"His power, precision, and composition was incomparable,” said the Foo Fighters frontman and Peart acolyte, who inducted Rush into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013. “He was called ‘The Professor’ for a reason: We all learned from him.”

As news of Peart’s death has spread throughout the world, fellow musicians have taken to social media to share their thoughts and memories.


RIP Neil Peart. 

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