Neil Peart of Rush is dead.
Peart died Tuesday in Santa Monica at age 67. The cause was brain cancer, which he had for three years, according to Elliott Mintz, a spokesperson for the Peart family. Peart is survived by his wife Carrie and his daughter Olivia.
Peart, acclaimed as one of the most influential drummers of his era, was a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member along with his bandmates Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson. The band retired from the road in 2015.
The band posted a note on Twitter late Friday afternoon after the news was announced and asked fans wishing to express their condolences to “chose a cancer research group of charity of choice and make a donation in Neil’s name.”
Peart was born on September 12th, 1952 and grew up in Port Dalhousie, Ontario. He first took piano lesson before he started drumming. His parents bought him a pair of drum sticks, a practice drum and some lessons for his 13th birthday and promised him a full kit on his next birthday if he stuck with it.
Peart went to England when he was 18 in hopes of launching his musical career, but after just 18 months returned to Canada and started working for his father selling tractor parts. After playing with a couple of local bands, Peart was convinced by a friend to audition for Rush, who needed a replacement for original drummer John Rutsey. He got the gig and joined them on July 29th, 1974.
Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson discovered that Peart had a knack for words, so they relied on him to pen lyrics for the music they wrote. The trio worked that way for the rest of their career. Peart’s first album with the trio was 1975’s Fly by Night, and together they made 18 studio albums that sold over 25-million copies in the U.S. alone.
Rush took a long break from 1997 to 2002 after Peart’s 19-year-old daughter Selena Taylor was killed in a single-car accident in August 1997. Then Peart’s partner of 23 years, Jacqueline Taylor, died of cancer just 10 months later. Peart ended up traveling across North America on his motorcycle which he documented his his second book, Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road. Peart ended up writing seven non-fiction books, most of which covered his travels on motorcycle during Rush’s tours. He also collaborated with sci-fi author Kevin J. Anderson on four books, the final two being inspired by Rush’s last album, Clockwork Angels.
Rush was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1994, the Canadian Songwriter’s Hall of Fame in 2010 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013.