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The Spirit of Neil: Rush drummer Neil Peart died one year ago today

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Today, January 7, marks the one-year anniversary of the death of Rush‘s Neil Peart, one of the most lauded rock drummers of all time, as well as the band’s primary lyricist.

Peart passed away at age 67 of brain cancer, and his death was announced on January 10, 2020, in a joint message from band mates Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson.

Peart joined Rush in 1974, replacing the Canadian prog-rock trio’s original drummer, John Rutsey. The first album Neil played on was Rush’s sophomore record, 1975’s Fly by Night. By Rush’s third studio album, Caress of Steel, Peart took over from Lee as the group’s main lyricist.

Driven by Peart’s powerful and complex drumming, Rush became one of the world’s most popular rock acts by the 1980s. Among the many memorable songs Neil co-wrote are “Fly by Night,” “Closer to the Heart,” “The Spirit of Radio,” “Limelight,” “Tom Sawyer,” “Freewill,” “New World Man” and “Subdivisions.”

During the late 1990s, tragedy struck Peart: His 19-year-old daughter Selena was killed in a single-car accident in 1997, and his common-law wife, Jacqueline, died of cancer the following year. Neil took a sabbatical from the band for a few years, and he eventually wrote a book about his healing process. He got remarried to American photographer Carrie Nuttall in 2000, and the couple had a daughter, Olivia, in 2009.

Rush continued to record and tour into the 2010s, and in 2015, the band was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Rush called it quits after mounting a 40th anniversary trek that wrapped up in August 2015.

Following Peart’s death, his hometown of St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, honored him by naming a new pavilion in the city’s Lakeside Park after him in June 2020.

By Matt Friedlander
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