Neil Peart, Rush’s drummer and primary lyricist, died on January 7, 2020 after a three-year battle with brain cancer. He was 67 years old.
The band released a statement on Twitter, confirming his passing, “It is with broken hearts and the deepest sadness that we must share the terrible news that on Tuesday our friend, soul brother and band mate of over 45 years, Neil, has lost his incredibly brave three and a half year battle with brain cancer (Glioblastoma). Rest in peace brother.”
Peart was the youngest person inducted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame when he was given the honor in 1983. He was largely considered to be one of rock’s most talented drummers with a flamboyant and precise style. His drumming on songs like “Tom Sawyer” and other drum solos became crucial elements to their sound and created highlights in their concerts.
Peart was born September 12, 1952 and raised in Ontario. He took his first drum lesson at age 13 and quickly became infatuated with the instrument, getting in trouble during class for drumming on his desk.
In 1974, he joined Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson in Rush, with a breakthrough in 1976 on the album 2112, a rock opera set in the far future. Their 1982 milestone album Subdivisions was an autobiographical look at misery in the suburbs.
Peart believed in the power or rock music and disapproved of commercialization of music with blander style. His power and composition earned him the nickname “The Professor” as he was studied and lauded by fellow musicians.
Outside of music, he wrote seven books about his life and time traveling, beginning with The Masked Rider: Cycling in West Africa, with the latest one being 2016’s Far and Wide: Bring That Horizon to Me!.
Rush was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013 and celebrated their 40th anniversary tour in 2015. After that tour, Peart stepped away from the band because of his chronic tendinitis and shoulder issues.