Tremendously sad news came down on Friday, as Neil Peart — iconic and massively influential drummer known for his work with Canadian prog-rock band Rush over the years — has passed away at the age of 67 after a battle with brain cancer.
According to Rolling Stone, Peart had been dealing with brain cancer quietly for three years, and passed away on Tuesday in Santa Monica, California.
Rush also shared an official statement as well.
Rush ceased official touring at the conclusion of 2015, and their future remained unclear until Lifeson confirmed in 2018 that the band was not to continue.
As accomplished a drummer as Peart was, working alongside guitarist Alex Lifeson and bassist/vocalist Geddy Lee for decades as a crucial aspect of what made Rush’s music so singular and acclaimed, Peart was also an avid traveler and voracious reader — and author.
In 2014, Peart spoke with Rock Cellar about his hobbies outside the music world, of which there were many. Regarding his method of writing books and crafting art, Peart took a moment and offered up this thoughtful response:
“The desire to share. And I love the tools of writing. I’ll draw a drumming comparison there, drumming is about communication also and trying to move people, and the tools of it are the drums. And I have the same fascination for words as tools as I did since I was a child, from crossword puzzles to reading.
I’m an immensely absorbed reader. I just fall into other peoples’ worlds, fictional or non-fictional very easily. So that makes me a good reader in that sense. The impulse to share, I think probably drives a lot of art. Not only because of the lonely voice crying out in the wilderness to be heard, but the desire to say “hey I love this, maybe you’ll love this too”.
And the simple way even I’ve defined our band’s music, it sounds almost glib to say it, but it really is true, we make music we like and hope other people will like it too. And that’s certainly my story writing ambition too, when something starts to get me excited then I want to convey that, and then that becomes being selective. And a trick I’ve learned lately is, if I find too many stories about a place, I know that can bog down a general reader where I tend to get very interested in a place after I’ve been there…I fall in love with it and then I learn all the history and want to share it.
But you can’t possibly expect a reader to read all that. So I’ve learned now, I drop the germ of where a story is and I’ll say “oh by the way this place I’m traveling through, there’s a lot of great stories if you’re interested in checking it out”, and maybe give a couple examples and then other peoples’ curiosity follow from there. And it’s nice to know that it does I’ll discover through the responses I get from my stories, usually from a circle of friends but also from strangers.”
The social media tributes to Peart poured in after the news broke, and the array of artists who lent their condolences demonstrates just how far-reaching the appeal and influence of Neil Peart was.
RIP Neil Peart pic.twitter.com/PxNZ3W5WSs
— Foo Fighters (@foofighters) January 10, 2020
I just heard about Neil Peart passing. I feel real bad about this – he was way too young. Neil was one of the great drummers and he’ll be missed. Love & mercy to Neil’s family.
– Brian pic.twitter.com/T5qjECWX1W
— Brian Wilson (@BrianWilsonLive) January 10, 2020
— William Patrick Corgan (@Billy) January 10, 2020
— Kirk Hammett (@KirkHammett) January 10, 2020
Rest In Peace Neil Peart. So sad to hear.
— Peter Frampton (@peterframpton) January 10, 2020
Sad to hear of Neil Peart passing. RIP. pic.twitter.com/2iMWJq1uoo
— Geezer Butler (@geezerbutler) January 10, 2020
Absolutely Horrible News. Neal Peart has died after fighting brain cancer for years. His later life was filled with so much family tragedy. So, so sad. I’m just shocked. pic.twitter.com/EM4Ea1quaY
— Paul Stanley (@PaulStanleyLive) January 10, 2020
My prayers and condolences to the Peart Family, Fans and Friends. Neil was a kind soul. R.I.P……. Rush Drummer Neil Peart Dead at 67 – Rolling Stone https://t.co/icYz6fnXfE
— Gene Simmons (@genesimmons) January 10, 2020
— David Ellefson (@ellefsondavid) January 10, 2020
Rest in peace, Neil Peart.