Neil Peart of Rush (1952-2020)

Neil Peart - The Professor has left. (1942-2020).

Rush In Concert – Kiel Auditorium, St. Louis – 1980 – (RIP: Neil Peart) – Backstage Weekend: Tribute Edition

Neil Peart of Rush (1952-2020)
Neil Peart – The Professor has left. (1942-2020).

Rush – In Concert from Kiel Auditorium, St. Louis – February 14, 1980 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –

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Less than two weeks into it and I am already not liking 2020 very much. Too much loss too quickly.

Seven days away from New Years and we lose Neil Peart; heart and soul of Rush. Arguably one of the greatest drummers to walk the earth and an inspiration to countless drummers (and musicians in general). Because he wasn’t “just a drummer” – he took a percussive instrument and turned it into a purveyor of endless expression and emotion. He elevated the position of drummer from time-keeper to soloist; a feat often misconstrued as technical proficiency, but Neil turned it into an art form, and that’s where the distinction lay. He made the drums talk – and their words were beautiful.

Everyone who has ever picked up a pair of sticks points to an influence; someone who opened up the possibilities and turned a rather loud metronome into something different. For me, it was Keith Moon and Art Blakey – two percussionists who saw beyond the constraints of time and infused a sense of joy and elation (and in Moon’s case, a devoted sense of whimsy) into the cause of painting a backdrop – the heartbeat of a band. In turn, Neil’s influence on other drummers has become, and probably will continue to be, a lasting legacy for musicians, generations to come.

As way of tribute, and reminder of Neil Peart’s gift, here is a concert – originally broadcast from Kiel Auditorium in St. Louis on February 14, 1980 (seriously . . .40 years ago??). It comes shortly after the release of Permanent Waves, their seventh album which was released in January that year. The album sparked a change of direction with the band and it proved to be their most successful to date, having reached #3 in Canada and the UK and #4 in the U.S. Several of the songs from that album are played at this concert.

I’m not sure how 2020 is going to wind up – I do know that the sense of loss so far has been palpable. We were fortunate to have had Neil Peart in our midst – and now there’s the gaping hole, joining all the other gaping holes the year has brought so far.

RIP: September 12, 1952 – January 7, 2020.

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