Neil Peart: Words of Wisdom

January 14, 2020 3 min read

Neil Peart: Words of Wisdom

Last week, the rock world lost one of its greatest drummers.

Neil Peart of Rush passed away at age 67 after a three-and-a-half year battle with brain cancer.

To say that Peart left his mark is an understatement. Neil Peart, that’s a whole other animal, another species of drummer,” Stuart Copeland said of him in 2018, a comment that will resonate with Peart’s many admirers. Instantly recognizable and uniquely inimitable, his playing inspired a generation.

Not only that, his considered and intellectual lyrics helped shape Rush’s “thinking man’s band” reputation and were a key factor in building their loyal fan base.

Today, to commemorate the passing of Neil Peart, we’re highlighting some of our favourite quotes that the “professor of the drums” gave in interviews over the years.

The famously introvert Peart didn’t often talk to the press. But, when he did, he always had something to say.

On Rush’s musical influences - NME, 1978 (via the Guardian)

“Hard rock is our kind of music, the music we grew up on. It’s what comes naturally to us. We just look at it as something that we’re trying to keep contemporary. We’re not trying to play the music of the late 60s. We’re trying to play the music of the late 70s – which has grown out of the 60s. We’re trying to take a modern approach, in the way the Beatles took a modern approach to Chuck Berry and so on … for us, the people we followed were Jeff Beck, the Who, Cream, Hendrix – mainly British bands.” 

On his incomparable drumming style – Loudwire, 2005

“The way I play is an honest reflection of myself — I like to challenge myself creatively to come up with lots of different parts for the songs, and make them challenging to play. But at the same time, I am driven by a personal sense of what I find exciting in drumming, and in rock music.

“Some musicians try to second-guess that instinctive response, and “design” their music to appeal to as many people as possible, but I have to think that must get confusing. It’s hard enough to decide what you like, and figure out how to do it, never mind trying to please everybody.”

On his lyric writing – Modern Drummer, 1980

I came into it by default, just because the other two guys didn't want to write lyrics. I've always liked words. I've always liked reading so I had a go at it. I like doing it. When I'm doing it, I try to do the best I can. It's pretty secondary. I don't put that much importance on it. A lot of times you just think of a lyrical idea as a good musical vehicle. I'll think up an image, or I'll hear about a certain metaphor that's really picturesque. A good verbal image is a really good musical stimulus. If I come up with a really good picture lyrically, I can take it to the other two guys and automatically express to them a musical approach.”  

On inspiring a generation of rock drummers – Classic Rock, 2017

“The highest possible compliment is if someone that you admire respects your work. To those that have said I inspired them to start drumming, the first thing I say is: “I apologise to your parents.” But it’s wonderful just to be a little part of someone’s life like that.”

R.I.P Neil Peart. Thank you for the music.

What is your favourite Neil Peart moment? Did you ever see Rush live? And do you remember the first time you heard the band? As always, share your stories in the comments.



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