This article was originally published in December 2015, shortly after Neil Peart announced his retirement from music. Peart died from glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer, on January 7, 2020
There has never been nor will there ever be another talent like Neal Peart. Since replacing John Rutsey as the drummer of Rush in 1974, Peart has redefined rock drumming in every possible way, from style to size and scope, to proficiency in combining rhythms in differing timings and measures who started by first learning how to play congas. His live performances are legendary spectacles which must be seen to be believed. Peart has also found a unique niche as the group’s non-singing lyricist who has written about everything from sci-fi to philosophy to profound interpersonal issues over the course of nineteen studio albums over four decades.
This week, the 63-year-old Peart all but confirmed what had been rumored in the months since Rush wrapped up its R40 Tour in the summer; that he is “retiring” from music after all these years in the limelight. Peart stated, “I would rather set it aside than face the predicament described in our song, “Losing It”. You have to know when you’re at the top of your particular mountain, I guess. Maybe not the summit, but as high as you can go.”
Bandmate Geddy Lee did try to tamp down the retirement talk by stating, “I think Neil is just explaining his reasons for not wanting to tour, with the toll that it’s taking on his body.” Lee also made it clear that a new studio album is possible in the future. Peart and the group did make one major comeback after a half-decade hiatus following the tragic deaths of Peart’s daughter and common-law wife in the late 1990s.
However, it is inevitable that time would catch up with the members of this group, who have played at such a technically complex and energetic level for so long. Like many, I’m just happy I’ve had the pleasure of seeing these guys at the height of their abilities.
“Freeze this moment a little bit longer, make each sensation a little bit stronger / Experience slips away…”