Neil Peart, drummer and primary lyricist for Rush, dead at 67

Canadian rock icon died earlier this week after years-long battle with brain cancer

Posted: January 10, 2020
Last Updated: January 10, 2020

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The influential musician, author and lyricist died Tuesday in Santa Monica, Calif., after having been diagnosed with brain cancer, according to a statement by a family spokesperson.  7:57

Neil Peart, the virtuoso drummer of iconic Canadian band Rush who was revered by fans and fellow musicians as one of the greatest drummers of all time, has died at age 67.

The influential musician and lyricist died Tuesday in Santa Monica, Calif., after having been diagnosed with brain cancer, according to a statement issued Friday by family spokesperson Elliot Mintz.

His death was confirmed by Meg Symsyk, a media spokesperson for the progressive rock trio comprising Peart, Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson.


"It is with broken hearts and the deepest sadness that we must share the terrible news that on Tuesday our friend, soul brother and bandmate of over 45 years, Neil, has lost his incredibly brave three-and-a-half-year battle with brain cancer," his bandmates said in a statement.

They also called for privacy for Peart's family and urged fans wanting to express their condolences to make a donation in his name to a cancer research group or charity of their choice.

"Rest in peace, brother."

Rush members Neil Peart, from left, Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013. (Danny Moloshok/Invision/The Associated Press/The Canadian Press)

Along with penning impressive lyrics, Peart was renowned for his remarkable proficiency on drums (he famously employed a complex drum kit that completely surrounded him) and expertly weaving together techniques from different musical genres, blending jazz and big band with hard rock. 

After the Hamilton, Ont.-born, St. Catharines, Ont.-raised Peart joined bandmates Lee and Lifeson in 1974, his virtuoso drumming helped lift Rush to new musical heights.

The band attracted a loyal, worldwide fanbase, sold millions of records and influenced a multitude of rock musicians with its complex, literary music. 


Watch: Legendary Rush drummer Neil Peart performs solo

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Neil Peart, the late drummer for Canadian rock band Rush, performs a drum solo.  0:45

The band was much honoured at home, including with an induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1994, Canada's Walk of Fame in 1999; a lifetime achievement honour at the 2012 Governor General's Performing Arts Awards; and an Order of Canada — the first time that a group was chosen to receive the honour. 

The trio was inducted into the U.S. Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2013, after years of lobbying by devoted fans.

The band played its last tour in 2015, with Peart revealing the following year in the Rush documentary Time Stand Still that he had fought intense physical pain during that final run.

Watch: Peart on the early days of Rush


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Neil Peart reflects on Rush's early days in this 2014 interview with CBC Music.  1:05

Peart's writing also extended beyond music: He penned a number of memoirs exploring his life and travels, including Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road, in which he opened up about the death in 1997 of his 19-year-old daughter, Selena, in a car accident and his wife, Jackie, who died of cancer just 10 months later.

His survivors include his wife Carrie and daughter Olivia. Funeral plans are pending.

Neil Peart, drummer for the Canadian band Rush, has died at age 67. (Owen Sweeney/Invision/AP)

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The Rush drummer breaks down the band's classic album 'Moving Pictures', track-by track...  15:47