The drummer and lyricist for the iconic Canadian prog rock band Rush has died. Neil Peart was 67 years old.
His death was announced by spokesperson Elliot Mintz, who said that Peart died on Jan. 7 in Santa Monica, Calif. Peart had been diagnosed with brain cancer three and a half years ago.
Peart was first inspired to become a drummer after watching the movie The Gene Krupa Story, as he told NPR’s Morning Edition in 2015.
“Drumming completely eclipsed my life from age 13, when I started drum lessons,” Peart said. “Everything disappeared. I’d done well in school up until that time. I was fairly adjusted socially up until that time. And I became completely monomania, obsessed all through my teens. Nothing else existed anymore.”
Onstage, Peart worked hard behind his kit, immersed in the rhythm. “I tend to define it as grim determination,” Peart told Morning Edition. “It is very physical and painful. … The exertion level is very much of an athlete level, so when I see myself, I see a stone face. But it is that kind of immersion. I’ll be looking out in between the immersion; I might pop my head out of the water for a second like an alligator, and see people in the audience reacting or holding up a sign or whatever. And that does delight me because, in a larger sense, I’m very much an audience kind of person, more than a performer.”
He had announced his retirement in 2015.