The legendary Rush drummer and lyricist, Neil Peart, has passed away at age 67, following a quiet battle with an aggressive form of brain cancer called glioblastoma.
"It is with broken hearts and the deepest sadness that we must share the terrible news that on Tuesday [Jan. 7], our friend, soul brother and bandmate of 45 years, Neil, has lost his incredibly brave three-and-a-half year battle with brain cancer," the band said.
Peart was one of rock's greatest drummers who possessed a flamboyant and technical style. He picked up drums at an early age and played in a number of bands in Ontario, where his home town is. He joined Rush in 1974, just before the band's first-ever American tour. Peart had replaced the founding drummer, John Rutsey and would remain in the band for the rest of his professional career, appearing in every single subsequent record.
The drummer also picked up lyricist duties during Rush's second album, Fly by Night (1975) where he penned six of the eight tracks. He would become the group's primary lyricist throughout the band's career. He would write songs on politics, romance and mythology.
In 1997, Peart lost his daughter, Selena Taylor, in a car accident. Less than a year later, his wife at the time, Jacqueline, passed away from cancer. Following the deaths, he took some time off from the band and traveled North America in a motorcycle to grieve before coming back in 2002 to record Rush's 17th studio album, Vapor Trails. He also wrote a book documenting his trip titled, Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road.
Drummer Neil Peart performing with Canadian progressive rock group, Rush, at the Civic Center in Springfield, Massachusetts, during the band's All The World's a Stage tour, 9th December 1976
Peart retired from professional drumming after Rush completed their final tour in 2015. "His shoulders were hurting, his arms were hurting, his elbows, his feet – everything," Lifeson explained. "He didn't want to play anything less than 100 percent. He was finding it increasingly difficult to hit that mark on this last tour. So, all those things combined, I get it."
After announcing his retirement, Peart had decided to spend more time with his wife, photographer Carrie Nuttall, and their daughter Olivia. During an interview with Drumhead Magazine, Peart told a story about his daughter. “Lately Olivia has been introducing me to new friends at school as, ‘My dad—He's a retired drummer,’” he said. “True to say—funny to hear. And it does not pain me to realize that, like all athletes, there comes a time to... take yourself out of the game.”