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Rush‘s Neil Peart, one of the most lauded and influential drummers of all time, as well as the band’s primary lyricist, died Tuesday at the age of 67.
According to a message from his band mates, Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson, Peart died of brain cancer.
“It is with broken hearts and the deepest sadness that we must share the terrible news that…our friend of over 45 years, Neil, has lost his incredibly brave battle with brain cancer (Glioblastoma),” the statement reads. We ask that friends, fans, and media alike understandably respect the family’s need for privacy and peace at this extremely painful and difficult time.”
The message suggests that fans wanting to express their condolences can make a donation in Peart’s name to “a cancer research group or charity of their choice.”
Peart joined Rush in 1974, replacing the Canadian prog-rock trio’s original drummer, John Rutsey. The first album Neil played on was Rush’s sophomore record, 1975’s Fly by Night. By Rush’s third studio album, Caress of Steel, Peart took over from Lee as the band’s primary lyricist.
Driven by Peart’s powerful and complex drumming, Rush became one of the most popular rock acts in the world by the 1980s. Among the many memorable songs Neil co-wrote are “Fly by Night,” “Closer to the Heart,” “The Spirit of Radio,” “Limelight,” “Tom Sawyer,” “Freewill,” “New World Man” and “Subdivisions.”
The group’s biggest chart hit was “New World Man,” which peaked at #21 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1982.
During the late 1990s, tragedy struck Peart: His 19-year-old daughter Selena was killed in a single-car accident in 1997, and his common-law wife, Jacqueline, died of cancer the following year. Neil took a sabbatical from the band for a few years, and he eventually wrote a book about his healing process. He got remarried to American photographer Carrie Nuttall in 2000, and the couple had a daughter, Olivia, in 2009.
Rush continued to record and tour into the 2010s, but announced their retirement after mounting a 40th anniversary trek that wrapped up in August 2015. After the tour, Peart insisted that he had no plans to return to music.
Neil was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Rush in 2013.
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