Any true rock music fan would have undoubtedly heard of Canadian rock band, Rush. The band was formed in 1968 and has been blowing their audiences away with their unique sound and unmatched performances ever since.
At the core of their music, pounding away their rhythm and grooves is the incredible drummer, Neil Peart.
Peart’s technical proficiency, creative flair, innovative approaches, and style to drumming as well as his deep and intellectual lyrics contributes majorly to Rush’s distinctive music.
Despite his passing in 2020 after a long battle with brain cancer, his contributions to the world of music will always be cemented into the hearts of many and his influence will forever inspire other musicians.
Born on September 12, 1952 in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, Peart was born as the eldest of four siblings. He grew up in a humble and happy family where his dad worked as a parts manager for Dalziel Equipment, an international harvester farm machinery dealer. After moving to Port Dalhousie, he attended Gracefield School and later on moved to Lakeport Secondary School.
During his years of early adolescence, he found himself to be really interested in music and got himself a transistor radio, where he would always tune in and listen to popular music stations from Hamilton, Toronto, Welland, and Buffalo. This is around the time of the rise of rock and roll and the decline of jazz which both influenced his style of drumming.
He first got into music by taking on piano lessons which did not turn out well. He did however, have a certain fondness for drums as he would always be drumming on objects around the house with a pair of chopsticks.
His parents acknowledged this and got him some basic equipment and drum lessons with a promise to get him a kit if he stuck on to it, and at 14 years old, Peart got his first drum kit.
Peart continued his drum lessons from Don George at the Peninsula Conservatory of Music. This is around the time where he made his first ever stage performance. He then went on to perform at several other places such as the St. John's Anglican Church Hall in Port Dalhousie with his first group, The Eternal Triangle.
As Peart grew older into his teenage years, he started playing in more local bands including Mumblin’ Sumpthin’ and the Majority. With them, he would perform all across Southern Ontario such as in Mitchell, Seaforth, and Elmira in spaces such as skating rinks, high schools, and church halls.
A rough start, Peart moved out to London, England at 18 years old to try and achieve his dream of being a musician. He tried playing with many bands over there but to no avail, he needed to work another job at a jewelry store to support himself. After over a year, he chose to move back to Canada and worked for his dad.
As time went on, Peart never gave up, he continued to play in bars till one day in 1974, he landed an audition with Rush, who happened to be looking for a drummer at the time for their upcoming tour. After much discussion within the band, Peart was accepted and officially joined the band on July 29, 1974. This was the beginning of a legendary history.
Over the years of the band’s career together, they managed to create their own style of progressive rock with a combination of pop, grunge, reggae, heavy metal, and art rock. Within their 4 decade run, they’ve produced 20 studio albums, and 9 live albums earning themselves a strong and loyal fan base with constant sold-out tours.
During break periods from touring with Rush, Peart and his endless curiosity would record and perform with Vertical Horizon, the Buddy Rich Band, Jeff Berlin, and the Rheostatics. In 1994, he produced and dedicated a tribute album towards Buddy Rich, the legendary drummer and big-band jazz, named “Burning for Buddy”.
Throughout his career, Peart has endorsed up to four drum companies including Drum Workshop, Tama, Ludwig and Slingerland.
Peart was known for using large drum kits for his creative and technical work as well as his masterful and lengthy drum solos. With this, he was able to impress and captivate all his audiences whether they were drummers or not.
Some of his drums and equipment included:
For the most of his career, he always stuck to his Slingerland Artist Model snare drum despite his constant changes in drum gear. Other snare drums he would use include:
Peart played multiple brands of cymbals, including Roland, Wuhan, Paragon, Sabian and Zildjian:
Pear mostly played with Promark drumsticks however he also used Slingerland:
Aside from his music videos and 10 video albums, he has also been credited as an actor in 3 movies called The Art of Drumming (2017), Adventures of Power (2008), and Rush: Time Stand Still (2016).
He was also a voice actor for Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters (2007). Apart from that, he’s also made his appearances on tv-host shows including The Late Show with David Letterman and Saturday Night Live, among others.
Peart has won and earned 34 reader’s poll awards from Modern Drummer which includes 15 “best recorded performances” of which 12 of them were almost in consecutive years. He even won the MVP award and Best Prog Drummer from them in 2013.
Other than those, hes was awarded 9 Juno awards and 7 Grammy nominations.
Neil Peart started playing the drums in 1966 at the age of 14.
Neil Peart died on 7 January 2020 at the age of 67.
Neil Peart played the drums for 53 years.
Throughout his career Neil Peart has used Zildjian, Ludwig, DW, Rogers, Fat, Roland, Slingerland, Tama, Simmons, Wuhan, Paragon, Sabian, Promark and Remo.
He is known for playing Progressive Rock, Hard Rock, Jazz and Swing.
Counting all his Albums, Neil Peart has been featured on at least 223 recordings.
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