It was one year ago today (January 7th, 2020) that Rush drummer Neil Peart, one of the most groundbreaking and virtuoso drummers in rock, died at the age of 67 in Santa Monica, California, where he lived. Peart’s cause of death was brain cancer, from which he had suffered for the previous three years. In a statement released after Peart’s death, Rush bassist Geddy Lee and guitarist Alex Lifeson called Peart their “friend, soul brother and bandmate over 45 years,” and said he had been “incredibly brave” in his battle with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. They added, “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 Peart’s name. Rest in peace, brother.” Peart joined Rush in 1974, replacing the Canadian trio’s original drummer, John Rutsey, on their second album, Fly By Night. His precise, complex and powerful drumming added a whole new layer of musicianship to the band’s sound. He also became their sole lyricist, touching on sci-fi, philosophy, social commentary, and more. Peart also authored several books over the years.
Legendary for his drum solos during Rush’s concerts, Peart retired from performing after Rush played its final show on August 1st, 2015 in Los Angeles. Peart was an immensely private person, so the fact that he had been battling brain cancer was not publicly known.
Peart is survived by his wife, Carrie Nuttal, and their daughter Olivia. Peart and Nuttal were married in 2000. His common-law wife of 23 years, Jackie, died of cancer in 1998 — less than a year after their 19-year-old daughter Selena was killed in a car crash in August 1997.
Next week sees the publication of Neil Peart: The Illustrated Quotes on January 12th, 2021. The book “is the first and only Neil Peart quotes collection authorized by Neil himself. . . and also serves as a love letter to Peart and his beautifully-crafted words that have inspired and influenced millions around the world.”
The press release for publisher Simon & Schuster’s Peart collection reads in part: “As the drummer and primary lyricist for the multi-platinum selling rock band, Rush, Neil charmed the world with his introspective and eclectic writing. Heavily inspired by science fiction, fantasy, philosophy, and his many cross-country trips on his motorcycle, Neil crafted universal lyrics that encapsulated the social and humanitarian issues of the time.”
CHECK IT OUT: Geddy Lee in 2012 discussing singing Neil Peart’s lyrics:
CHECK IT OUT: Rush in 1988 performing “YYZ” and “The Rhythm Method” from A Show Of Hands: