Rush aren’t dead! Neil Peart hasn’t retired!3 months, 9 days ago
Fans of intricate hard rock were despairing when it seemed Rushs drummer had hurled in the towel. But the bands Geddy Lee says people got it wrong
On 7 December, when the tale ran viral across various music websites, the headlines were unequivocal. Rush drummer Neil Peart has retired, said Metal Injection, complete with tongue-in-cheek Bummer Alert :. For fans of the multi-million selling Canadian band described by Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett as the high priests of conceptual metal this was indeed a bummer of epic proportions.
Neil Peart is no ordinary drummer. In the areas of heavy stone, Peart is, by popular consensus, second only to the late John Bonham of Led Zeppelin. And just as Bonhams death in 1980 was the end of Led Zeppelin, so the virtuoso Peart is irreplaceable to the band he has served as drummer and lyricist since 1974. If the narrative were true, that was it for Rush.
The source was an article that the 63 -year-old Peart wrote for Drumhead magazine, in which he referred to comments make use of his young daughter. Lately, Olivia has been introducing me to new friends at school as My dad hes a retired drummer. True to say, funny to hear. Peart went on to quote a line he wrote for a 1982 Rushing ballad. It does not pain me be recognised that, like all athletes, there comes a time to take yourself out of video games. I would rather set it aside then face the quandary described in our anthem Losing It( Sadder still to watch it die, than never to have known it ).
The response from Rush fans on social media was an outpouring of hopelessnes, mixed with a degree of uber-fan one-upmanship: I ensure them back in 78 at Newcastle City Hall. Ive find 102 Rush gigs. The kind of stuff that geeks revel in and fans of Rush are notoriously geeky.
But was Peart truly saying what they thought he was saying? In the absence of an official clarification from Peart, it was Rush bassist/ vocalist Geddy Lee who defined the record straight, when he spoke to Prog magazine on 8 December. According to Lee, what Peart said was simply a verification of what he has said repeatedly in the past years that he is no longer willing to tour for months on end, as Rush have done throughout their 40 -year career. Simply, that Peart is retired from touring, but not from the band. I think Neil is just explaining his reasons for not wanting to tour with the toll that its taking on his body, Lee said, alluding to the tendonitis the drummer now suffers from.
There is, however, another factor in all of this Pearts dedication to his family. As Peart said in 2012: Frankly, people dont realise the sacrifice you make as a touring musician. Being away when children are growing up and when your partner requires you around, its wrenching.
The truth of the matter is that Peart did retire from Rush in the late 90 s, in accordance with the death of his daughter Selena in a auto crash, and the loss of his first spouse Jacqueline to cancer. It was merely after he remarried in 2000 that he was persuaded by his new wife, photographer Carrie Nuttall to return to the band.
Since then, Rush have enjoyed a later-career renaissance. For a band that has sold more than 40 m albums, they have remained a cult phenomenon under the radar, as guitarist Alex Lifeson puts it. But the bands 2012 album Clockwork Angels was a huge hit: No 1 in Canada, No 2 in the US. And in 2013, Rush were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, joined on stage at the ceremony by the Foo Fighters, who performed a classic Hurry-up anthem, The Overture, from the 1976 album 2112, while wearing wigs and the kind of flowing white satin robes that Rush wore back in the 70 s.
Foo Fighters leader Dave Grohl whose work with Nirvana sealed his reputation as the finest boulder drummer of his generation said he screamed after fulfilling Neil Peart for the first time. Another famous drummer, Stewart Copeland, formerly of the Police, described Peart as the most air-drummed-to drummer of all time.
Geddy Lee tells the Guardian what it is that attains Peart so good: Neil blends a few things that you dont usually find in one drummer. He combines powerful stone histrionics with an incredible compositional sense more suited to a classical musician. He has the chops and they are able to switching into a jazz-like improvisational mode at any time. The other thing is the pure physicality of what he does. When you see him play live for three hours, there are very few people on Earth than can play at that level for that length of hour. Like he says, My job is like operating marathons while solving equations.
Lee feels that Pearts remarks about retirement have been misconstrued and sensationalised. Thats how it goes in the media, he says. Talking about something when theres nothing to talk about. He is adamant that Peart, and Rush, will carry on. But for how long, he cannot say. The wear and tear of age is also telling on Lifeson, who has arthritis. What Lee said in May 2015, in an interview with Classic Rock magazine, still holds true. Can we go on forever? Clearly not. And if it is the end, its going to happen in bits and pieces. If we cant used to go and do a massive tour in the future because everyone cant agree on that, theres nothing to say we cant do another record or one-off shows here and there.
Neil Peart has not retired. Not yet. But Geddy Lee knows it wont be long. All we can do, he says now, is enjoy what time we have left.
Read more: www.theguardian.com