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Artist News: Neil Peart of Rush Dies At Age 67 After 3 Year Battle With Brain Cancer

Posted on Saturday, January 11 @ 17:26:58 UTC by admin

Neil Peart (c) 2009 Andrew MacNaughtonBy now, you have all heard the devastating news that Rush drummer and lyricist Neil Peart passed away at the age of 67 after a 3 year battle with brain cancer. Any lover of music will surely know his name and the music of Rush, if only for their signature hit "Tom Sawyer." But there were Rush albums before Moving Pictures and many after (all worthy of checking out). All of these albums marked by the three unique talents of Geddy Lee (bass, vocals, keys), Alex Lifeson (guitars, backing vocals) and Peart. Considered by many - including yours truly - to be one of the best drummers in the world, Peart also had a very personal take on the world. Influenced by Ayn Rand, among others, his lyrics were always literate and insightful. And, of course, his drumming - dynamic, powerful, subtle and always tasteful. He was not one for flash for the sake of flash. He didn't have an enormous drumkit because it looked impressive - though it did - but to bring life to tones and textures, moods...

Peart was also an author, penning several books about the life on the road. Not touring necessarily, but motorcycle rides across North America and Central America. One such venture (Ghost Rider: Travels On The Healing Road) started after the death of his daughter (car accident) and, not too longer after, his first wife (cancer). His first book, The Masked Rider: Cycling In West Africa (1996) concerns his bicycle tour through Cameroon in 1988. In all, Peart penned 7 non-fiction books; not to leave out a mention of collaborating with science-fiction author Kevin J Anderson on a novelization of Clockwork Angels, the last studio album the band released in 2012, and its sequel.

I can't pinpoint the moment when I first heard Rush, though it was in the early 80s. Was it "Tom Sawyer" playing on the high school campus radio during lunch? Was it on my own radio listening to Top 40 (as I did in the late 70s)? Or when my father and I stopped for lunch at a pizza place in Azusa (now long gone) and the jukebox started playing "Tom Sawyer." I had made some comment to my dad about the song - I don't remember what other than I was thrilled to hear the song. At the time - and still now, on classic rock radio - this song was ubiquitous. Maybe it was when a friend put on Caress Of Steel when I was over playing video games on her (then new) Macintosh.

I do more clearly (but not 100%) remember in 1987 when my college roommate had me listen to, I think, Power Windows (though I was familiar already with "Big Money"). Maybe it was Moving Pictures or Signals. Maybe it was all three. Nevertheless, I copied on to cassette the latter two and played them a lot. (For those concerned, I later bought them on CD, new.) This either prompted or was prompted by my purchase of Hold Your Fire. This album spoke to me on a number of levels - won't go into them now. What I loved then, continued to love, and love now, is that Rush songs were about something, and not just - and rarely - about romantic love. I won't do a deep dive analysis to support that thesis, but that is how I view things broadly speaking. Even songs that could read that way, work on other levels.

While there have been albums that haven't moved me as much as others, there are truly no bad Rush albums. They have always stayed true to who they are. Even as music fashion has changed, Rush remained Rush. Even if new tech crept into their music, it was not to appeal to the latest fad, but to expand their palette.

Though Peart was not the band's first drummer (that was the late John Rutsey, who appears on the band's first, self-titled album), he has expectedly become synonymous with the band's name (no less so than Lifeson and Lee).

On Tuesday, January 7, the world lost a great musical voice, but it - and he - will live on: In the 18 studio albums, 11 live albums, compilations, boxsets, and 13 VHS/DVD/BRs released during the band's long career.

Read Rolling Stone's article

We have reviewed several Rush albums over the years... and yes, there are gaps we aim to fill:

[Source: general knowledge, but some details on Peart's writings confirmed via Wikipedia. Picture is ©2009 Andrew Macnaughton]

Posted in Band News (tours, comings/goings, etc)

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