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Neil Peart, drummer for the progressive rock band Rush, died on January 7, 2020 from brain cancer. He was 67 years old.
I generally don’t write about the passing of an artist, unless they have had some tragic death that cut short their career. However, in this case, I consider Peart as the Greatest Drummer of All Time, and as such, he gets special notice in my blog.
I’ve written about Peart twice before – see my April 18, 2018 post on Rush, and my October 16, 2019 post on Percussion Instruments.
Peart was Canadian, born in Hamilton Ontario in 1952. He joined Rush in 1974, after living in England for a year and half, trying to break into the music scene. Early in his career, he was influenced by British hard rockers Keith Moon, Ginger Baker and John Bonham. Later, he refined his style, influenced by jazz and Big Band percussionists like Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich.
Soon after joining Rush, he became the primary lyricist for the band. In his early days, he wrote of fantasy and mythology. By the early 80s, his lyrics turned to social, humanitarian and emotional modern themes. He also authored 7 non-fiction books – books about his observations of life during his travels throughout the world.
All 5 of these drummers who influenced Peart make most lists of the Greatest of All Time. So, why do I consider him THE greatest? His innovative style, his usage of state-of-the-art drum kits (it was not uncommon for him to have 40+ drums surrounding him), and his technical proficiency to make percussive sounds that you can’t believe. See for yourself.