Rush Drummer Neil Peart Dies At 67 – Brain Tumor Diagnosis Kept Secret

Neil Peart Had Brain Cancer For Over Three Years…And Told Almost No One

Neil Peart Rush drummer 1978

Neil Peart of Rush – A Farewell To Kings tour book 1978

The surprising news that Rush’s extraordinary drummer and lyricist Neil Peart has died at age 67, comes as a shock to the world. While music lovers will try to absorb the stunning news, only Peart’s family, band mates and a few close friends knew this day was imminently closer than anyone realized.

Peart passed away quietly in Santa Monica, CA on Tuesday, January 7 of brain cancer. For over three years Peart was fighting the disease. His close circle of friends knew his predicament. Everyone else had no idea.

Peart’s survivors include his wife Carrie and daughter Olivia. Peart escaped a media frenzy of reporting on his illness, as doubtless there would be, had anyone known about his cancer. That’s the kind of man Neil Peart was. Ferocious on drums. Private, quiet and introspective in life. Peart did not want consolation from the world by sharing that he was ill. His reticence to speak publicly, well established.

Rush in limo 1978 Peart Lifeson Lee

Rush 1978 (l-r) Neil Peart Geddy Lee & Alex Lifeson

On tour in the early 1990s I met both Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee backstage shortly after a show at Madison Square Garden. We talked for a minute. I expressed my undying gratitude for their music. Took a photograph with them, that I unfortunately never received from the official photographer. I was looking around for Neil Peart. Nowhere in the room. Peart rarely did meet and greets. Smiling and shaking hands with a room crowded with strangers. Why would anyone subject themselves to that. Peart didn’t. I couldn’t blame him.

Band mates Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson said on Twitter:

“It is with broken hearts and the deepest sadness that we must share the terrible news that on Tuesday our friend, soul brother and band mate of over 45 years, Neil, has lost his incredibly brave three-and-half-year battle with brain cancer (Glioblastoma). We ask that fans, friends and media alike understandably respect the family’s need for privacy and peace at this extremely painful and difficult time. Those wishing to express their condolences can choose a cancer research group or charity of their choice and make a donation in Neil’s name.

Rest in peace brother.

Peart’s professional success was offset by personal tragedy. His first daughter, Selena Taylor, died in a 1997 car accident. In a double blow, less than 10 months later Peart’s common-law wife Jacqueline Taylor died of cancer on June 20, 1998.

Afterwards Peart admitted he considered suicide. “In the days following Selena’s death, I had learned for myself how a sunny day could actually seem dark, the sun totally wrong, and how the world around me, the busy lives of all those oblivious strangers, could seem so futile and unreal — as futile and unreal as what passed for my own life.”

It is rare that a famous death affects tens of millions of people. Peart’s death has that impact. The word genius is in use for so many people that it blurs the true meaning of the word. Neil Peart – musical genius. A professional musician who brought joy and inspiration to so many will be remembered. Rush’s music lives on and will continue to do so for as long as there are intelligent people who can appreciate a progression of sounds that can touch souls.

We will leave it to others to try and define the importance of Neil Peart. Similar to how Peart left it to others to try and define his lyrics.

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7 thoughts on “Rush Drummer Neil Peart Dies At 67 – Brain Tumor Diagnosis Kept Secret

  1. charles randall gibson

    Neil Peart was really a down to earth guy I really hope his daughter will tell us all what kind of person he was at home

  2. Ernest Blackmore III

    I have enjoyed RUSH’s music for over 70% of my 64 years on earth. I was blessed to have discovered them in 1974. The first concert for me was at Hollywood’s Whiskey A Go Go. I met the band and asked Neil if I could see his drums. He said to wait after their 2nd set. When the road crew denied me, Neil escorted me to the stage himself, just he and I, where he spoke, beaming about the different brands of equipment his new record deal money provided. He graciously gave me a pair of sticks from the show which I still cherish some 46 years later. Since that night I have seen every USA tour since RUSH played the Los Angeles area without fail. My luck continued being in attendance at RUSH’s ROck n Roll Hall of Fame induction as well as their final concert at The Forum August 1, 2015. A Fan Forever, “The Professor” will be greatly missed and always revered.

    Rest well Neil and thank you for all your hard work and dedication.

  3. Sean Arthur Joyce

    Thank you for your thoughtful eulogy for Neil Peart, avoiding the usual music biz clichés. Sadly glioblastoma, until recent history an extremely rare form of brain cancer, is becoming more and more prevalent. There is a vast body of scientific research linking this to our increasing exposure to wireless devices and cellphones. We are losing too many good people prematurely. Every time another one of these gifted people leaves us, it feels like a part of me is slipping away.

    1. George

      1. Myth: Cell phones cause glioblastoma.

      Fact: To date, there is no established link that cell phones cause glioblastoma. Several different studies have failed to find clear evidence of a link between cell phone use and brain cancer. The number of people diagnosed with glioblastoma has remained largely stable over the past decade, while cell phone use has continued to increase. Can you please post crazy some where else and respect Neal Peart and his family.

  4. Anthony S.

    Devastating loss to the rock/prog music world. Many of us grew up listening to Rush and engaging in numerous “best of the best” conversations with friends and colleagues. No doubt that Neil was, at one time or another, either #1 or a close second. His solos were always showstoppers and demonstrations of excellence. Buddy and Bonzo now have great company in the percussionists afterlife. R.I.P. Neil.

  5. Speesh

    He was extremely important to my life. His drumming is well known to be the ultimate quality. But his lyrics had more impact on me. I literally burst out crying when I heard the news. I now understand how people felt when Elvis died.


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