Rush drummer Neil Peart tells magazine he's retired

Neil Peart, drummer of iconic Canadian rock trio Rush, announces his retirement from music, citing age and health issues.

Canadian rock icon cites age, health issues for ending music career spanning 40 years

Rush drummer Neil Peart, seen in Philadelphia during the prog rock trio's R40 Live: 40th anniversary tour in June, has only retired from lengthy tours, according to bandmate Geddy Lee. (Owen Sweeney/Associated Press)

Rush fans who caught the iconic Canadian band's 40th anniversary tour this past summer may likely have seen the trio's final concerts, with drummer Neil Peart telling a music magazine that he has retired.

Discussing his lengthy career in Drumhead Magazine, the Hamilton-born Peart mentioned that his young daughter Olivia, born in 2009, "has been introducing me to new friends at school as 'My dad — he's a retired drummer.' True to say — funny to hear. And it does not pain me to realize that, like all athletes, there comes a time to ... take yourself out of the game."

Health an issue

Peart, who according to a 2012 Maclean's article currently lives in Santa Monica, Calif., hasn't been the only band member to muse about slowing down.

In April, Alex Lifeson, who struggles with psoriatic arthritis and has had other health issues, admitted to having mixed feelings about continuing the rock star life, saying that while he loved playing, family time and health concerns are increasingly a consideration for the trio.

"I think 40 years is a long time to be touring the way we tour. I really like being home with my grandkids. At 61, I don't feel there's anything we need to prove," he told The Canadian Press.

He also noted the difficulty for Peart, whose extremely physical performance as one of the rock's world's most accomplished drummers is aggravated by chronic tendonitis and shoulder problems.

Canadian rock trio Rush wound up a tour this summer and now drummer Neil Peart has confirmed he is retiring from music. (Paulo Whitaker/Reuters)

"It's just getting to the point, no matter how much we love doing it, that it's much more demanding and much more difficult.... I've always hated the idea of being one of those guys who's just up there, old and barely able to move — just doing it for fear of not doing it, or not making an extra buck or whatever."

However, ending large-scale tours doesn't mean no more Rush, according to Geddy Lee.

"It doesn't mean we don't want to work together still, it doesn't mean we won't do another creative project, and I've got ideas for shows we could do that don't involve a tour," he told Rolling Stone, which featured the band on its cover in June.

Spirit ever lingers

When announcing the dates for its most recent North American tour in January, Rush described the slate as "not-to-be-missed concerts" and added that the 34-city jaunt would "most likely be their last major tour of this magnitude."

Though the progressive rock trio formed in the mid 1970s, sold more than 30 million albums worldwide, earned widespread respect and influenced scores of musicians, it was only recently that the band earned much recognition from the industry.

Rush was only inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — after being eligible since the 1990s and following years of petitions and protests by devotees — in 2013, almost a decade after the band was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.

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

Family tragedy and recovery

On Aug. 10, 1997, Peart's first daughter and then-only child, 19-year-old Selena Taylor, was killed in a single-car accident while driving to university in Toronto. Just months later, Peart's common-law wife, Jackie, was diagnosed with terminal cancer and later died.

Peart told his fellow Rush bandmates on the day of his daughter's funeral they should "consider me retired."

He would later go on a 14-month motorcycle trip across North America, through Mexico to Belize and back, chronicling the journey in his book, Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road, before rejoining the band.


Jessica Wong

Senior digital writer

Based in Toronto, Jessica Wong covers Canadian education stories for CBC News. She previously covered arts and entertainment news, both national and international, and has been a digital journalist for CBC since 2001. You can reach her at Jessica.Wong@cbc.ca.


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