Neil Peart’s Greatest Sacrifice For Rush

In 2018, Rush vocalist Geddy Lee told Rolling Stone that there was no chance for the band to tour together again. Two years after that statement, Neil Peart passed away due to a type of brain cancer, leaving no odds for the trio to reunite.

But before things ended, the drummer took part in many projects with Rush. With his contribution, ‘Fly by Night’ achieved commercial success and took the band out on tour across the US and Canada in the mid-70s.

Following that, Rush released five albums in just four years and toured extensively for each one. When Peart looked back at this time during a chat with the Boston Globe, he called it ‘a dark tunnel.’

On the other hand, the late musician saw these projects as a chance to grow as an artist. In a 1989 talk with Modern Drummer, he said he had worked for many years to get his drumming to a level that was just right for the band’s music.

Saying that his playing couldn’t get any better, Peart said:

“It’s a funny kind of thing to say because it won’t read the way it’s intended. It took me 20 years to reach a level of even some confidence. I’m not talking about being a virtuoso or being a master or anything like that. It took that long to reach a point where I actually thought I maybe could play, and I think the last five years have seen the cementing of that.”

He also talked about how touring with Rush helped him grow:

“This has required a lot of inner evaluation and a certain amount of soul searching, too, because I had always lived on input and growth. At the end of a tour, I always felt I had learned all these new things, and every record marked a significant broadening of my abilities and my choices of techniques.”

The drummer went on by saying:

“So now, I feel I’ve reached my potential. To make any technical improvements in my playing would take too much time, and at this point, playing a faster paradiddle doesn’t mean as much to me.”

Speaking of learning new skills and getting more confident, he added:

“I spent 20 years on technique and on learning the finer points of keeping good time, developing tempo and shadings of rhythmic feel, and keeping my mind open to other ethnic music and other drummers, and all of that was just flooding into me. When I finally became confident in my playing, all of these things finally came together. Confidence really was the key for me.”

Then, he explained how his mindset also changed on the way:

“I was never a confident player at all-flamboyant, overplaying, yes, but never confident. I had to step back from that 20-year quest for knowledge and ask myself, ‘Do I really enjoy using all this stuff?’ My consensus was that, yes, I do like being able to draw from all of these things I’ve worked on, but my mental approach to it has to change.”

Peart had a reason to go through all this change, as he revealed:

“For me, the center of everything, and what I most enjoy doing, is what we – the band – have just been through, which is the process of writing new songs and arranging them. This includes working out drum patterns and trying to record the parts as well as possible and as quickly as possible.”

He further added:

“That has been the nexus of it, having to change my mental attitude toward what I do and having to re-evaluate in the true sense of values of what is important to me about it. It’s not enough for me to just say, ‘I want to play my axe.’ I’ve spent 20-odd years doing that, and now I have other ambitions and interests in life.”

After Neil Peart died, Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson didn’t take the stage together as Rush. But in 2022, they performed at the ‘South Park’ 25th-anniversary concert in Colorado and the Taylor Hawkins tribute shows, with other drummers filling in for the late band member.