One last post for the year…Recently an interview was posted in which RUSH bassist Geddy Lee mentioned that Neil Peart had given up drumming in his retirement. Referred to as “The Professor” and considered to be one of the most talented and technically astute drummers of all time Peart’s reputation among drummers is one of reverence. Citing a myriad of medical issues and the desire to focus on his family Peart’s reasoning was understandable. Known to be a perfectionist, he also stated that he wouldn’t play if he could not perform at a high level. Personally I found it poetic for someone to become the best at something and then walk away.
What bothers me is the backlash that he faced from rabid RUSH fans who were disappointed to the point of becoming angry. They seem to be in disbelief that their hero could quit drumming no matter what his reasoning was. Their selfishness and lack of empathy is downright disturbing. First, it’s none of their business what Peart does in his private life let alone in his retirement. He remained dedicated to the music for four decades. Second, drumming is not who he is, it’s what he does, or did in this case. Third, health and family always come first. That’s called priorities.
That said, there is also a lot of love being sent his way by fans who are expressing their appreciation for Peart’s body of work. He played on close to 20 studio albums and every one is a tour-de-force of drumming. To be honest I was never a Peart fanatic like so many of my drum bros. I liked RUSH but not to the point of trying to learn their songs. I was more into drummers like Stewart Copeland and Jon Farris. I spent my time on Police and INXS songs which I still play today.
Looking back, I probably appreciated Peart’s lyrics more than his drumming. I will admit that his influence and contribution to drumming is probably at or near the top of the list. Peart won just about every award an accolade a drummer could win. He certainly left his mark on the instrument. I wish him the best of luck in his retirement and hope that fans will look at his departure as a well-deserved ending to a remarkable career.