Neil Peart Dead, Legendary Drummer For Rush Died From Brain Cancer At 67

Neil Peart on drums during a concert in Las Vegas.
Ethan Miller / Getty Images

Drummer Neil Peart has died, according to reports. Citing confirmation from a publicist, CBC reports that Peart passed away on January 7 in Santa Monica, California. He was 67 years old.

Peart grew up in Port Dalhousie, Ontario. He started drumming at a young age and began pursuing his career as a full-time musician when he was a teenager. He traveled to England in an effort to get noticed. However, after not having any luck in the U.K., he returned home to Canada.

Peart joined Rush in 1974 after the departure of original drummer John Rutsey; Rutsey left the band shortly after the release of the self-titled debut album due to health complications stemming from diabetes and a distaste for touring. Peart was selected after auditioning. He officially became a part of the Rush lineup two weeks before the group embarked on its first U.S. tour. His first show with Rush took place at the Pittsburgh Civic Arena, opening for Uriah Heep and Manfred Mann.

Serving as Rush’s primary lyricist, Peart was a part of what fans consider to be the band’s classic lineup, alongside bassist and singer Geddy Lee and guitarist and founding member Alex Lifeson. Peart was inducted, with his fellow members of Rush, into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013.

In addition to drumming, Peart wrote seven non-fiction books.

Peart spent the last several years of his life living in Santa Monica, California, with his wife, Carrie Nuttall, and his daughter, Olivia.

Rolling Stone reports that Peart died from brain cancer, which he’d been silently battling for the last three years. The outlet cites family spokesperson Elliot Mintz and states that a band representative confirmed the news of Peart’s passing.

He Retired From Performing In 2015

Alex Lifeson, Neil Peart and Geddy Lee of Rush speak onstage at the 28th Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on April 18, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.
  Kevin Winter / Getty Images

Peart announced his decision to retire from music on December 7, 2015, in an interview with Drumhead Magazine. It was later revealed that his brain cancer diagnosis was the reason behind the decision.

“There comes a time to… take yourself out of the game. I would rather set it aside than face the predicament described in our song ‘Losing It,'” Peart said in announcing his retirement.

In a 2018 interview with SiriusXM’s Eddie Trunk, Rush bassist Geddy Lee said that Peart was not drumming at all — as reported by Rolling Stone.

“Neil is retired. He hasn’t just retired from Rush; he’s retired from drumming. He’s not drumming anymore, and he’s living his life. Which is fine — Alex [Lifeson] and I are cool with it. We’re all still total pals. In fact, Alex and I were there just a few weeks ago visiting him, and we stay in touch. And, of course, Alex lives very near to me, so we’re constantly going out to dinner, ’cause he loves to drink everything in my wine cellar. We’re still pals, and we all talk, but that period of our life is done,” Lee said.

His First Daughter Died In A Car Accident & He Lost His First Wife 10 Months Later

Neil Peart of Rush poses in the press room at the 28th Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on April 18, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.
  Jason Merritt / Getty Images

Peart’s first daughter, Selena Taylor, was killed in a car accident in Ontario on August 10, 1997. Ten months later, his common-law wife, Jacqueline Taylor, succumbed to cancer. Peart has previously said that his wife died of a broken heart.

After Selena’s death, Peart took a break from music. At her funeral, he told his Rush bandmates that he was going to retire. While this wasn’t the end of his music career, he did take some time off. He traveled through North and South America on his motorcycle, chronicling the experience in his book Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road.

His Death Has Been Felt Throughout The Music Industry

Musicians and celebrities took to social media to express their heartbreak over the celebrated and influential drummer’s passing.

Fellow Canadian rocker Bryan Adams offered “condolences to his family and fellow band members Geddy and Alex.”

“Such a loss, one of my favorite musicians of all time. His influence and music will live on through anyone who picks up an instrument,” tweeted Taylor Momsen, singer for The Pretty Reckless.

“RIP #NeilPeart You were a sensational musician, and a wonderful writer (everyone should read “Ghost Rider”) but best of all, you were a great friend to my brother from another mother @VerticalHorizon. Rest easy. Matt will proudly honor your memory,” Richard Marx tweeted.

“Godspeed #neilpeart. You will always be the Professor On The Drum Kit. R.I.P. and may God bless your legacy,” Poison drummer Rikki Rockett said via Twitter.

“I’m deeply shocked and saddened by the news of one of my favorite drummers of all time has passed away today. Thank you for everything Neil Peart. You Will be sorely missed and never forgotten. RIP,” Roy Mayorga, drummer for Stone Sour and Soulfly, shared on Instagram.