Rush drummer Neil Peart, widely agreed upon to be one of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll drummers of all time, died Tuesday in Santa Monica, Calif., after battling an aggressive type of brain cancer for the past three-and-a-half years, as Rolling Stone reports, citing spokespeople for both the Peart family and the band. Peart was 67 years old.
Peart’s Rush bandmates Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson called him their “friend, soul brother and bandmate over 45 years” in a statement to RS, adding that he was “incredibly brave” in his battle with brain cancer, and continuing, “We ask that friends, fans, and media alike understandably respect the family’s need for privacy and peace at this extremely painful and difficult time. Those wishing to express their condolences can choose a cancer research group or charity of their choice and make a donation in Neil Peart’s name. Rest in peace, brother.”
Peart joined Lee and Lifeson in Rush in 1974, replacing founding drummer John Rutsey. Though he is best known as the Canadian power trio’s drummer, Peart was also its principal songwriter, and his sci-fi/fantasy-tinged lyrics—not to mention his virtuosic percussion—would go on to become one of the band’s calling cards.
One Rock and Roll Hall of Fame career later (they were inducted in 2013), Rush would embark on 2015’s R40 Live Tour, commemorating Peart’s 40-year anniversary as a member of the band with one last run of shows. At the end of their final show, Peart broke his own rule by taking a final bow with his bandmates: “I’ve never crossed what I call the back-line meridian,” he said in Rush’s 2016 tour documentary Time Stand Still. “I stay behind my drums and cymbals for 40 years and never go out front, never. It’s not my territory. Eventually, I talked myself into it. It was totally the right thing to do.”
In addition to writing Rush’s songs, Peart was also an author, penning a number of nonfiction books.
Peart is survived by his wife Carrie and his daughter Olivia.
Watch a 1976 Rush performance from the Paste archives below.