Image courtesy of RollingStone.com
Rush drummer Neil Peart passed away earlier this month, after succumbing to brain cancer. He was 67. Fellow bandmates Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson confirmed the news in a statement saying: “It is with broken hearts and the deepest sadness that we must share the terrible news that 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)."
Prog-metal drummer Mike Portnoy, whose own playing was heavily influenced by that of Peart’s, wrote in a lengthy statement: "It absolutely breaks my heart to pieces to get the news of the passing of one of my greatest heroes of all time. Neil Peart will always be a mentor and a hero to me and his influence on me as a drummer for the past 40 years is absolutely impossible to measure.”
Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl praised Peart as a “a kind, thoughtful, brilliant man” in his statement: “Today, the world lost a true giant in the history of rock and roll. An inspiration to millions with an unmistakable sound who spawned generations of musicians – like myself – to pick up two sticks and chase a dream.”
Drummer Taylor Hawkins adds “Neil Peart had the hands of God. End of story.”
Social media outlets were ablaze with grief and tributes pouring in from members of KISS, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, and Metallica, with Anthrax’s Scott Ian saying: "The greatest of all time. RIP Neil Peart. I’m going to go raise a glass and then air-drum the shit out of Tom Sawyer."
Throughout his career, Peart received numerous for his musical performances and capabilities, even becoming the youngest inductee into the Modern Drummer Readers Poll Hall of Fame in 1983. His drumming was universally acclaimed for its technical proficiency in addition to his energetic nature and stamina in a live setting. In 2015, he retired from music, and in 2018, Rush stated their intent to no longer tour or record any new music as a result of Peart’s declining ill-health, and consequently disbanded.
Following Peart’s death, Rush’s music sales have seen a staggering 2000% surge in the United States alone, with a 776% surge in streaming, all according to Billboard. In the wake of Peart’s passing, the band’s 1981 classic ‘Tom Sawyer’ remained the most streamed.