The Death of a True Legend

I’m absolutely floored, and literally in tears. My hero has passed, and what a totally monumental loss for the music world it is.

Neil was voted best Rock drummer so many times by “Modern Drummer” magazine that he became no longer eligible for that tally. As anyone who’s seriously listened to or witnessed this man play drums will attest, it was extremely well deserved. He raised the bar for every single drummer on the face of the Earth to new, soaring heights.

Drumming skills

For those unfamiliar with Peart, I have to include at least one example of his undeniable percussion mastery. The following is an appearance on the David Letterman show in 2011, the finale of “Drum Solo Week”:

He also authored the lyrics for 99% of Rush songs. It’s absolutely impossible for me to pick favorites, but as an example, these lines from the song “Entre Nous” (translated from French, “Between Us”) struck a huge chord in my heart the very first time I listened to it:

We are secrets to each other
Each one’s life a novel
No one else has read
Even joined in bonds of love
We’re linked to one another
By such slender threads

“Entre Nous”, complete song:

However, as a whole I can certainly name my all-time favorite Rush song, an early effort called “Anthem” (especially the live version from their “All The World’s A Stage” album). It’s so fucking raw, and captures their power trio sound perfectly. It was also the basis for the epic song “2112”, written and recorded later in the band’s career.

For the best listening experience, get those headphones on and crank it!

“Anthem”, from “All The World’s A Stage”

Peart was a prolific writer, producing many non-fiction books about his travels and personal experiences. Needless to say, I’ve read all of those interesting and wonderfully written stories.

In my opinion, this one’s the best: “Ghost Rider: Travels On The Healing Road” (an Amazon #1 best seller), where he documents his search for a reason to carry on following the deaths of his 19-year-old daughter Selena (automobile accident) and wife Jackie (a victim of cancer). He lost his entire immediate family in a period of less than a year in 1997.

Ghost Rider - Travels On The Healing Road - Book Cover

I can’t imagine how someone can even begin to recover from something as crippling as that, but his personal way of coping was to get on his BMW motorcycle and during the next 14 months ride over 55,000 miles across the United States. I really thought it was the end of Rush, but much to my delight Peart managed to rebound and re-join the band for the production of their come-back album “Vapor Trails”, some 5 years later.

Through that long trip, he ultimately rediscovered joy, love, and indelible memories of the most extraordinary journey of his life.

I consider myself extremely lucky to have been in the 1st and 2nd rows for the final two Rush tours along with my oldest son Craig Jr, to once again witness this absolute genius at work those last few times. In total, I’ve attended 23 Rush concerts since 1979 and, if you know me well, that in itself speaks volumes.

Peart - R40 Tour - 2nd Row
A photo I snapped of Peart from the 2nd row, during their final 40th anniversary tour.

There was and still is no other band like them in Progressive Rock or any other genre, and I most sadly doubt there ever will be again. You may not be a fan of Rush, but surely you have to respect all of its member’s incredible levels of musicianship.

Rush motivational

On one occasion, Neil actually took the time to answer a letter from Craig with a personally signed postcard, back in 1994. There’s a long story behind this, but after reading the card, I think you’ll get the general idea:

Peart postcard - Back with address masked

Some interesting links for your perusal…

  • I had written a post here quite a while back containing a series of video interviews in which Neil puts forth solid advice to help achieve your goals, not only for musicians, but for everyone:

“Neil Peart’s Top Ten Rules For Success”

  • There’s a very rare video performance available on this blog’s “Live Concert Footage” page. It was recorded at the Capitol Theatre in Passaic, New Jersey during their 1976 tour, just after the album “2112” was released.

Watching that video, it’s clear to me that even way back then, they were far ahead of their time. This also just happens to be the same venue where I attended my very first Rush concert, which changed my musical life forever:

Performance from the “All The World’s A Stage” tour

  • Finally, here’s a great article I happened across last night, in which many other legendary Rock Stars each pay tribute to Neil in their own, special way:

“Music world reacts to death of Rush drummer Neil Peart”

Although this is quite a long post, it barely scratches the surface regarding this ultra-gifted soul, and he’ll certainly continue to be a huge influence on me, as he always has been. I’ve so many stories about my experiences with Rush, I’d have to write the Magna Carta to cover them all.

It’s so very tragic that we’ve lost yet another incredibly talented musician and writer. But you may rest assured, he’ll continue to live on in the hearts of millions of Rush fans through his music. Without a doubt, legends of this caliber never really die.

Here is a favorite quote of Neil’s which I feel really sums up his life, originally written by Arnold H. Glasow:

“Success isn’t a result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire.”

Now, there you have some truly inspirational words to live by.

May this kind man rest in peace.

Additional credit:
The top featured image of this article was created by my dear old friend, Döc Ivan.

Döc is is an awesome graphics artist, and the way he’s pictured the Rush “Starman” logo in the background is especially fitting. It reminds me of a setting sun, signifying Neil’s art forever gone from this world.

Many more absolutely wonderful wallpapers he’s created are available as free downloads on this blog. For additional details, please visit the following page:

Rock Icon Wallpaper by Doctör Ivan

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