Farewell to a King , a Birthday tribute to Neil Peart

Hello everyone, after everything that’s been happening in the world these past few months I figured it would be good to pick right back up on a piece I was planning on doing months ago. About a Man that most of us are familiar with in some way,shape, or form. Or at the very least, have heard of the band that he took to new heights, Rush

Yes, Im talking none of them the one and only Neil Peart who would have been celebrating his 68th birthday today, if he didn’t pass away earlier this year. The name Neil Peart is now synonymous with the term “best drummer in the world” even though his lyrical contributions to his band were also a key element to their success. It’s ironic to think that when they started out, Neil wasn’t even part of Rush. But after a mutual friend of Neil’s encouraged him to audition for Vocalist/Bassist Geddy Lee and Guitarist Alex Lifeson He joined the group for their second album “Fly by Night” along with their first tour of the U.S. and the rest as they say is history. On the flip side, it’s a bit scary thing of what may have become of Rush if Neil never joined. I have no doubt in my mind that if that had been the case, Neil still would have went on to be the backbone and lyricist for another successful group, if not several. It’s quite impressive that at the age of 18, Peart traveled from his native Canada all the way over to England in pursuit of his dream. Only ironically enough only to have found it back where he started.

Many people, including myself were fortune enough to witness Rush perform live. Even though me and my friends got turned on to them many years after their debut, we’d found evidence of their early success by flipping through old high school yearbooks and seeing the kids rocking Rush shirts or finding some form of graffiti that was written on desks in school or on the bathroom walls (unfortunately not from the Prophets though) mostly comprised of their logo and the pentacle which was part of the artwork for their iconic concept album,”2112″. However, nothing beats seeing them actually perform live. It’s a great feeling being amongst all of their fellow fans, looking out in any direction and seeing several people playing air drums perfectly in sync with Neil. And I’m sure most of them, like myself are not truly drummers and the decent amount of them have probably never even picked up a drumstick(the wooden kind I mean). But all in all that was the magic of a live Rush concert, they just empowered you in such a way that you felt you could emulate Neil’s prowess. I’ll leave this here so you can see for yourself, I’m sure this will bring back great memories for a lot of people.

It goes without saying that Neil Peart has influenced several musicians throughout the decades, and will continue to do so for as long as people are able to hear his music. A few of them allowed me to share their words about Neil after he had just passed away. Starting with my own drummer,Ken Holley :

“It’s difficult to say just a few words about Neil Peart. He was a force to be reckoned with both as a drummer and lyricist…As a drummer, he was arguably THE best rock drummer to have walked the planet. That said, he was a humble man who didn’t believe that being a musician was a competition. He was completely self taught and played multiple genres of music with the same amazing precision he played the progressive rock music he wrote…Neil was often referred to as “The Professor”…not just because of how cleanly he played but for his humility and willingness to teach other drummers (basic technique to beginners, more advanced rudiments and licks for the more advanced). His influence amongst drummers is only limited by those who have not heard him play…Rest In Peace, Professor! You were a tremendous musical influence in my life as well as many others! May you always be remembered well! You will be missed by all.”

“Not only was Neil Peart one of my biggest drumming influences, but, life influences as well. I was such a fan, that I actually wrote Mr. Peart about what to do after I graduated high school: keep playing in bands, go to a music school like Berkeley or go to a regular university. 6 months later, he actually wrote back! “From the desk of Neil Peart… “ I was in shock. He said playing in bands can lead to a frustrating dead end, going to a music school like Berkeley would be great but going to a liberal arts college would give you the benefit of a well rounded education”. So, that’s what I did! I went to the University of Minnesota. Haha!”-John Servo of Panzie,BILE,16 Volt,and Hellbent(formely of)Chemlab, KMFDM, Daniel Ash, Sister Machine Gun, Maniac Rise, Wrath of Killenstein

When I asked him for his quote, Servo had informed me that at that very moment he was listening to Rush’s “Caress of Steel” album and rocking his “Hemispheres” tour shirt. Yet Another example of the magic that is Rush

Of course like any great artists, Rush had a way with writing songs that people could relate to. Growing up in the suburbs, this is one of my favorite songs by them which I’m listening to as I’m writing this(and yes, im involuntarily playing air drums along with it)

“Neill wasn’t the reason I started playing drums, but he certainly is the reason I started my journey into more complex drumming. After hearing Moving Pictures I thought drumming was either hard rock or swing. Rush opened my eyes, ears and mind to serch out more progressive music. If it weren’t for Neil Peart, I wouldn’t have considered Yes, Jethro Tull, King Crimson or Mahavishnu Orchestra. This was the leap I took after hearing Neil play for the first time and I thank him for it. Later, the biggest influence he would have on me is his lyrics and his ability to write either a good story or express some deep emotions. THAT was a huge influence.”- Runt Wahh of Vague Perception/By Blood Alone

“Can’t say anything as a drummer, but as a lyricist, I certainly can. Just what a songwriter! His fantasy stuff, his Ayn Rand influenced stuff, the philosophical, political, humanitarian “stuff” was just great. “Subdivisions” is literately, a lyrical masterpiece. “The Trees”? WOW! I could go on and on (and on) with great songs/lines that he has written. And as a music fanatic: Yeah, what a drummer. I know for a fact, the drummer in my band, IS a drummer, *because* Neil. Enough said…” Amber Lynn of Vague Perception

Ah! “the Trees”, another favorite. I actually learned this piece and played so repetitively, that I gave a decent amount of my friends headaches lol

“Hi Imbolg, This is an important breakthrough of healing for Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson of Rush, to, publicly knowledge the tributes and outpouring the Rush Family has expressed in love and respect of Neil Peart. Please, let’s show Geddy and Alex as much love as possible on their healing journey”. Thank you for your kind support, Paul,Zest Radio

Thank you all for reading this. Whether you’re a longtime fan of Rush or not, this will give you a a sense of how greatly this band has effected the lives of many. In closing, i’m going to have to plagiarize myself, and share what I originally posted after I found out that Neil had died. Since the message is still true.

Be Well all,

Nate xoxo

“The message in this song Echoes much stronger after losing Neil. It’s easier said than done, but I hope that all of us will be able to absorb the message in this song and cherish the moments that we have with our friends and loved ones and not squander them or take them for granted. To Neil Peart, where can we begin to talk about the impact you’ve had on music and generations of musicians. The story of how your determination as a very young artist had you to traveling to England in an attempt to become a professional musician. Obviously you did that and much more. Strangely enough today as I was writing some lyrics, I decided to listen to two Rush songs not knowing about this. This is the last song I heard today so far. Thank you for all the great performances and memories. Myself and many other musicians are eternally indebted to you.”

Please be sure to watch the the Modern Drummer Festival with a Tribute to Neil Pratt which airs live Tonight at 8pm EST

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