Like every drummer on the planet, I was impacted by the artistry and craftsmanship of Neil Peart’s drumming. When I was 9, after months of begging my parents declared a big NO to me bringing a drumset into the house. At the time I was far less enthusiastically taking piano lessons, but I really REALLY wanted my own drums. After weeks of relentlessly asking, manipulating, negotiating, my Dad finally took me out and bought me a hihat. I didn’t get an ENTIRE set until I was 12, but for some reason I still don’t know to this day, my Dad got me only a lone hihat. Why not a practice pad or a snare drum, but just a HIHAT is a mystery. Later, I had to creatively expand the rest of the set out of chairs, books, anything that worked to grow my homemade drumset out of the nucleus of my hihat. This was actually really fun, and I have some great memories of jamming on my own contraption. So as we drove home with my brand new hihat in the back seat we stopped to get gas, and I can remember the gas station attendant (he was a teenager but seemed so much older to me) noticed the hihat in the car and shouted ‘Whoa, you’re a drummer! I play too. You have to check out NEIL PEART. He’s the best. You’ll love him!’ He was so enthusiastic, and was a proud member of the cult of Rush. This was my introduction to Neil Peart, which grew to help shape who I am today.
This story echoes so many similar ones of Neil’s impact to drummers globally. He inspired others to practice and push themselves, and gave us all permission to be OURSELVES. ‘We play who we are’, and living LTR is all about bridging the gap between striving for our human potential to find our best selves in drumming. Neil lived this every day. Life is fragile, and like the rest of the world I was so unexpectedly shaken by Neil’s passing. I have always been a fan of everything he strove to put out in the world, and I wanted to share with you the best LTR qualities we can learn from him to take into our own lives and become our best selves through drumming.
Neil always had a slight smile on his face, and loved to laugh. Yes he was serious on the drums, but he saw the humour in what he did … we’re only hitting metal and wood with sticks after all!
He had the very highest standards of excellence in everything he did. We was hard on himself, always striving to give his absolute best, and truly cared about how the level of his artistry impacted others.
Not being afraid to be WEIRD is so important, and Neil lived his life with the courage to be himself. From the early days image and approach of Rush, to his lyric writing, to his obsessive motorcycling adventures, Neil brought together so many areas of life that had not been combined in such a way before.
In LTR we are playing the game of LONGEVITY. It’s one thing to create success, but it’s another to SUSTAIN it for the long game. Neil brought a love of reading, spending time with his family, and renewing himself by being in nature to balance the high standards he demanded from himself and to keep it going for a lifetime. When you compound consistency over years and years, the level of excellence you can achieve will stagger your imagination!
Neil was a life long student. His humility to start taking lessons far into his career, and then to venture out into the unknown world of playing jazz to add more swing pulse to his groove, is inspiring to anyone that is a curious student of life.
Rush had over 40 (!) plus years of no scandals, no crazy stories, no damaging lawsuits or anything resembling the high drama of some other band’s careers. To play the long game is to cultivate a REPUTATION through having a vision, living with intention, and taking daily actions. Your own reputation comes down to a question: what do people say about you when you’re not in the room? Everyone I’ve ever met that knew them always had something good to say about Neil and the rest of the band. Give yourself the standard of not speaking badly about anyone. We’re all trying our best and fighting our own battles. Neil also surrounded himself with great people, and always gave back to those around him.
And there are so many more! Share your own stories and lessons with others that you learned from Neil over the years. We are lucky to live in a world where Neil’s artistry enriches our lives. He impacted the world through his passion in what he created. Life is fragile. Stay inspired, and live the LTR path through drumming for your best self every day.