Neil Peart, the drummer, and lyricist of progressive rock band Rush, has died, CBC News and Rolling Stone report. According to the reports, Peart died on January 7 in Santa Monica, California after a years-long battle with brain cancer. He was 67 years old.
Renowned for his technical expertise and unique performance style, Neil Peart was considered by many to be one of the best rock drummers of all time. He retired from professional drumming, and Rush, in 2015.
He’s known as the Professor.
But that’s not all they call Neil Peart. Stick the phrase “Neil Peart is…” in Google, step back and watch the accolades fly. As far as the Web is concerned, the Rush drummer is unreal, the greatest, a legend, the man. He is, some breathlessly proclaim, a rock god.
At his concerts, they stare and study, their arms busy in the air, miming his every move across his colossal kit. He doesn’t stare back: Focused, intense, deeply invested, Peart is all business as he steers Rush through its marathon live show.
The enduring phenomenon of Neil Peart is one of rock music’s rarely highlighted realities. In a rock world where musical prowess is often discounted, where his peers are often stereotyped with an amiable joke (“What do you call a drummer without a girlfriend?” “Homeless”), Peart is a rare sort indeed: a drummer beloved foremost for his virtuoso chops — and a personal image directly opposed to rock flash.
As the Canadian band alights at DTE Energy Music Theatre for a Tuesday concert, the 54-year-old drummer, lyricist and author will be in his familiar spot behind bassist Geddy Lee and guitarist Alex Lifeson, once again the magnetic focus for many in the Rush audience.
If you want to start an argument, walk into a room full of rock fans and declare that so-and-so is the best whatever. But the conventional wisdom on Peart — that he is one of rock history’s very best — is about as close to consensus as it gets. It’s a reputation built on a lengthy, rarely flagging career, even as Rush has flown under the mainstream radar since Peart joined in 1974.
The stoic Peart is a drummer’s drummer, a player whose high-end work has made him a legend among fellow musicians. He dominated Modern Drummer magazine’s annual best-of polls so comprehensively during the 1980s that the publication eventually took him off the ballot and placed him on a special honor roll.
“He perhaps doesn’t loom as large in the overall music world, or even in rock,” says senior editor Rick Van Horn. “But within the drumming community, his stature is beyond iconic. No one has had this much impact for so long. He’s influenced so many people and remained at the pinnacle of popularity for 30 years.”