There are not many bands where the drummer is an integral life force but Rush is an exception. Drummer Neil Peart was not only a masterful musician, he wrote most of Rush’s lyrical content. As a result, the band stood out for exploring topics that were political, emotional and even epic at times.
Image Credit: Consequence of Sound
Unfortunately, Peart passed away on Jan. 7, 2020. He had been quietly suffering with brain cancer for 3 ½ years. Although there has been talk of band mates Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee moving forward with the band, Lifeson is saying he is finding it difficult to move on.
“It’s been difficult,” Lifeson said. “After Neil passed in January, I’ve played very little guitar. I just don’t feel inspired and motivated. I don’t know if the motivation is there for us to really do anything now. We’re certainly proud of our track record, and we still love music. But it’s different now.”
Although Peart had much success throughout his life, it was also marked by tragedy. His teenage daughter died in a car accident in 1997 and he lost his wife to cancer just months later. Lifeson describes the way he is feeling now to the way the deaths affected him some 20 plus years ago.
“I didn’t really play for about a year [after that],” he said. “I just don’t feel it in my heart right now. Every time I pick up a guitar, I just aimlessly mess around with it and put it down after 10 minutes…Normally, I would pick up a guitar and I would play for a couple of hours without even being aware that I’m spending that much time. So I know it’ll come back.”
Admittedly, the band hasn’t been very active when it comes to live shows even when Peart was alive although this may have had something to do with the drummer’s health. They last toured in 2015 as a celebration of their 40th anniversary. They also performed in 2017 on the night when they inducted Yes into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame. Since then, Lee’s main professional focus seems to be a book he released in 2018 called Geddy Lees’ Big Beautiful Book of Bass. Lee toured to support the book.
Up until 2015, the band had been pretty active on the road touring consistently since 2002. Lifeson reflects on that time saying “Maybe a year or two after we stopped, I probably missed it more. But I’ve settled into it now, and I quite like my life and what I’m doing. I keep active in music, and I’m so in love with golf during the summer, and I’m close to my family. It’s a very good balance for me.”
Although the band has been quiet on the touring front, they released a deluxe edition of their album Permanent Waves late last month as a celebration of the LP’s 40th anniversary. It included live tracks from that era. A tribute concert for Peart had also been planned at the Meridian Centre in St. Catherines Ontario but it has since been rescheduled to Oct. 17 due to the pandemic.
Rush is a legendary band that leaves quite a legacy behind them. Their music is sure to live on no matter where their lives may take them.