In memoriam: Neil Peart

Rush drummer Neil Peart died last week of brain cancer at the age of 67. A statement from the band paid tribute to their “friend, soul brother and bandmate of over 45 years,” noting that he had suffered for three and a half years from glioblastoma. (This rare form of tumour is the same that took the life of The Tragically Hip’s Gord Downie). Hamilton, Ont.-born Peart showed a gift for percussion instruments from a tender age. In 1974, he replaced Rush’s original drummer John Rutsey. As the band’s principal lyricist, he penned the words to such hits as “Tom Sawyer” and, with his friend Peter Talbot, “Closer to the Heart”. Peart was tragically predeceased by his daughter Selena Taylor, who died in 1997 at 19 in a car crash, and by his spouse Jacqueline Taylor less than a year later. Though the cause of Jacqueline’s death was given as cancer, Peart attributed it to a “broken heart,” calling it a “slow suicide by apathy”. Along with bandmates Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson, Peart was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1996 and inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2010 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013.