Legendary Neil Peart, the gifted and electrifying drummer for Rush, passed away Tuesday, a family spokesperson confirmed today. He died in California at the age of 67. Peart had been battling brain cancer for the past three years, though that news was kept from the public.
Peart (rhymes with EAR), like his band, had a huge cult following. His complex, intricate, exotic drumming style was unique, bombastic and technically flawless. He reversed his drumsticks and played them butt-end out so he could create a larger sound and impact on the skins and rims of his massive drum kit. Known as The Professor, he used both the tradition drumstick grip and the matched grip over his lengthy career, sometimes even within a drum solo. He was generally in any discussion of rock’s greatest drummers.
But he was much more than the band’s back beat. He was also the band’s main lyricist, crafting the words that Geddy Lee belted out. A creative, humorous, Renaissance Man, Peart also wrote seven non-fiction books, mostly about his wanderlust for travel. The first of those books, “Ghost Rider,” was inspired by a 14-month, sabbatical, motorcycle trip across North America after the loss of his first wife of 22 years and 19-year-old daughter within a year.
Rush was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013, and they performed their final tour in 2015. Neil is survived by his second wife, Carrie, and his daughter from that marriage, Olivia. His legacy is solid in the rock pantheon. Enjoy a couple of his complex drum solos below!