The most influential musician and writer I have ever experienced. His music and his lyrics to help shape my adolescence in early adulthood in ways that no other artist ever did. I'm very happy he was part of my life for so long.
Very sad indeed. He was amazing to see live. When i was a teenager i probably saw Rush 5 or 6 times. Every time we were speaking for hours driving back home about his performance. A few minutes ago my son called me (long distance!) Telling me that the best drummer in the world is gone...
Damn, yet another. But not just any other: Neil Peart has to be, along with Keith Moon, Ginger Baker, and John Bonham, amongst the very most unique and influential Rock drummers of the post-Beatle era (though Baker didn't consider himself a Rock drummer, and I agree with him). But Peart was also Rushes lyricist, whatever you think of them.
Brian Cancer is brutal: I watched in horror as it slowly kill my mother when she was 42. I hadn't heard Neil was battling it, but I don't read the drum magazines anymore (or Rolling Stone, where I assumed it had been reported). R.I.P. brother.
I’m shocked! I had believed that Rush retired because Neil had serious arthritis. I never knew he was suffering from brain cancer. I watched in awe as he played with Rush. He was truly an awesome drummer. This is another huge loss.
Great drummer is an understatement. Ground breaker, the first of his kind. Countless have learned from him and copied him, an awe inspiring legacy. We used to have air drum contests to Hemispheres! My first concert at the Chicago Amphitheatre. Geez the memories....
By all accounts a role model in life as well. Going to head downstairs and listen right now. Maybe Hemispheres, maybe Caress of Steel? Moving Pictures? Signals? These are my favs but you just can't go wrong. Just might do some air drumming. :-}
I've seen every tour since Moving Pictures. Big fan. Saw them in Vegas on their last tour, Denver as well. As a drummer, what can I say? Not a drummer out there today that hasn’t been at least a little influenced by this man. Sad day.
RIP Neil Peart. I saw Rush perform Permanent Waves, Moving Pictures, and Time Machine Tour (2012) and own their albums in many formats. My favorite band; provided this fan many happy memories. "One likes to believe in the freedom of music, but glittering prizes and endless compromises shatter the illusion of integrity." Peace.
From age 14-21, I spent hours and hours behind my drum kit playing to Rush records and trying to learn Mr. Peart’s parts. It’s a damn sad day, but I am forever grateful for the joy he brought to my life.
Changed my musical outlook and appreciation forever. 1981, when a friend in school told me I had to hear this new album...went to his house afterschool, started playing D&D and then he dropped the needle. Moving Pictures. Mind blowing. Into the summer, MTV started. After a bit they had some of the Le Studio based videos (Limelight and Vital Signs) and a live version of Tom Sawyer. Genius, Wizardry. Since no VCR, no streaming...had to wait and hope for a cycle they'd show any of these videos again. Saw them live at least twice, er, maybe more, but easy now. Genius drumming, genius lyrics. Kind of lost touch with the group after Presto and Roll the bones but have multiple copies of everything 2112 and up on vinyl, digital. The world lost a great genius. His condition might explain why he insisted on riding his motorcycle so much and that's how he got to and from concerts when they were doing the R30 tours etc. or at least Clockwork Angels. Man, kind of speechless because he was the type of artist you didn't need to explain...just play YYZ and ask for just 1 minute of patience and will keep anyone listening to the end. RIP Neil from one of the humble hundreds of millions you connected to with spirit and song.
I have a drumstick Neil used at one of the two shows Rush performed at Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Columbus, OH in 1978. They threw guitar picks and drumsticks to the audience and the guy in front of me should have caught the drumstick but he was looking the other way and I reached in front of him and caught it just before it hit him in the head. Rush also performed back to back shows at Veterans Memorial Auditorium in 1977.
Veterans Memorial Auditorium was a small venue and they had no problem selling it out two nights in a row, two years in a row. IMHO, Neil was the greatest rock drummer ever, then comes Bonham, then Moon.
There's always debate when you use the term "best" drummer in the world because it's such an all encompassing term. The fact is that as technically articulate as Neil was, plenty of drummers have had more proficiency with the drum sticks, and these days you can find 15 year old drum prodigies on youtube doing stuff, in terms of sheer speed and proficiency, that Neil would struggle to replicate. And certainly guys like Buddy Rich could "out speed" Neil, if that is part of the criteria for best drummer.
But I think it's on firmer ground to make the case that Neil was the most creative drummer in the world, and a true original (to the extent any musician is original). His"compositional drumming" was like no other in terms of the thought put in to it, the variety of ideas he'd put into even a single track, and the outrageous success of those ideas in terms of people noticing and remembering his licks. Any Rush fan has a disproportionately large (almost worryingly so) part of their brain housing most of Neil's drum parts, because they are just so hooky, distinct and memorable. Which is why they call Peart "the most air-drummed drummer in the world." (Hell, even last night listening to Rush I couldn't help air drumming the parts!).
There are plenty of great drummers who drove the music, and who came up with a number of good memorable drum hook parts. But no one approaches the Neils sheer profligate output in that regard. He was a drum-hook machine.
Further, even though many excellent drummers could (and can) listen to Neil's part and play all the strokes, the fact is they didn't and couldn't come up with those parts, and also no one SOUNDS like Neil Peart playing those parts. His drumming feel had a unique combination of intellect, an almost machine-like perfection yet played with stadium-rousing power.
So I think he was the most unique, creative and influential drummer ever.
And that's not even to talk of his role as lyricist! Rush songs like Xanadu and Hemispheres were, in my youth, as transporting and immersive as any beautifully produced cinema. And he gave any number of philosophical bon mots to chew over.
Finally, in the 70's and early 80's...generally before the internet...it was rare to hear from the band members. They were mostly mysterious, especially the notoriously shy Neil. If anyone showed up to a radio interview it would tend to be Geddy, sometimes with Alex.
But over the years, once Neil started writing books, doing teaching videos, and now that numerous interviews with him are available on-line, my appreciation for him as a human being grew tremendously. Such searching intellect, curiosity, enthusiasm, humanity and humility, and integrity. He became by proxy one of my favorite persons. He really was one of one of my very few heroes. And clearly that's the case for a great many of us.
"Such searching intellect, curiosity, enthusiasm, humanity and humility, and integrity. He became by proxy one of my favorite persons. He really was one of one of my very few heroes. And clearly that's the case for a great many of us."
@PROF I did not want to say what you said. My good friend who went to school for drumming was never that impressed with Neil. I forget who he prefers but to him Neil was just another rock drummer. But hey, what do I know. I enjoyed the music!
Yeah, I’ve certainly seen Neil dissed over the years.
In fact, after going through a Rush phase in the 70’s early 80’s, I and a lot of music geeks I know switched to following Jazz/Fusion which became bigger for a while. The players there had chops it seemed well beyond even the best rock musicians. So we became less impressed with the prog guys to a certain degree.
But...with time comes maturity and perspective. I’ve returned over the past few years to a huge appreciation for Rush.
Some drummers diss Peart because there are other more technically proficient players who could "play whatever Peart plays and more."
But that reminds me of the jazz/fusion phase my musician friends went through. I remember them dissing Madonna’s stuff at the time as bone-headedly simple chord progressions that "anyone could do." But what they discounted was just how hard it actually was to simplify, to produce hooks, good songs. This was made especially apparent when any of these jazz/fusion guys tried their hand at writing popular tunes (as some did when playing in more commercial bands, in trying to write "originals."). Their stuff was AWFUL. Just bad, bad attempts at pop and hooks. It only made me appreciate the skill of a Madonna (or other popular artists) all the more.
As I said, a drummer dissing Peart can say anything he wants: he just can’t actually sound like Peart drumming, and never produced the hooks Peart produced album after album.
(And of course there has always been backlash against a drummer like Peart by some drummers who will say he’s "too busy" and doesn’t serve the music. But that is simply a blinkered view of what drumming is or can be. There are many ways to drum, many roles to fill. Rush’s huge success and influence is partly due to the drum parts Neil produced, so it’s silly to deny his "creatively busy" style as a valid approach to drumming).
It was good, as I grew up into my twenties and thirties, to learn to both love and to be critical of Peart. Not his drumming, but his writing and even some of his philosophy. It was nice to realize that I wasn't entirely blinded by hero worship, and that my hero had faults like all of us.
It’s irrelevant as to whether Neil could swing or play a shuffle. Plenty of wedding and bar-mitzvah drummers can do that. What Neil did he did with a grace and alacrity that few drummers could replicate, much less emulate. He was a true composer ON the drums and brought them to a new level as an instrument equal on level to any other. He wasn’t merely a time keeper ... he MADE the time, and Geddy and Alex followed along. As for his lyrics, terms such as "superlative" and "sublime" fail to describe adequately, if at all, the emotions and images evoked by them ... even after numerous listenings. They are thought provoking, lyrics for the ages.
Neil’s untimely passing has prompted me to think about grieving for those we don’t know. I never met Neil nor did I ever communicate with him directly. Yet his passing is a deep personal loss to me, both as a musician and as one whose life he touched in a meaningful way. Perhaps my feelings of loss are based on his musical influence on my playing and as part of the soundtrack of my life. Perhaps they are the result of feeling that some part of my youth has died. Perhaps they are the result of mourning a musical loss to society in general. Maybe it’s a combination of all of those reasons. I don’t know. Regardless, Neil was and remains a special, unique, and extraordinary force to be reckoned with as time marches on. He created a standard by which few could measure up, yet he did so in a humble, self-deprecating way, which inspires me to keep trying.
Mr. Peart was without a doubt a great drummer, after all he is the inspiration of the movie The Adventures Of Power. Whether he influenced or impressed other drummers is irrelevant, he is beloved by air drummer everywhere! And that ain't no small task.
I know it’s hard for those raised on Rock to accept it, but what passes for extreme talent in Rock is merely average at best in Jazz.
That’s the conceptual mistake that I mentioned earlier, that misses the phenomenon of Neil Peart.
It’s like saying "what passes as extreme talent in a pop artist is merely average at best in Jazz." In what sense? Technical ability? The jazz guys could never write the amount of successful pop hooks that a Madonna came up with even if they tried. Nor would they likely produce the personality and individuality of Madonna as part of the package. Different idiom; different talent.
Jazz guys could no doubt *play* most of what Peart played, but they never did (and likely would not) come up with the endless creativity and hooks Peart produced within the rock idiom. Nor would they ever sound like Peart. (Sort of like saying "Anyone could sing what Neil Young sings! Jazz vocalists would sing rings around him!" Except none would sound like Neil Young, nor did they produce what Young so successfully produced).
The fact is Peart in all likelihood brought more attention to drums and influenced more drummers around the world than almost anyone else.If you can’t recognize the type of talent that required and still think in terms of "jazz guys are better" then you are missing the point.