Five of Neil Peart's Most Iconic Moments18 January 2020 / by Manus Hopkins (author)
The music world was upended earlier this month with the news that legendary Rush drummer Neil Peart had lost a private three-and-a-half year battle with brain cancer.
Formed in Toronto in 1968, Rush rose to fame throughout the 1970s and are still world-renowned as progressive rock innovators. Peart was often considered one of the top drummers of all time, and also recognized for his intellectual lyrics.
In honour of Peart, we decided to reach out to a number of Rush fans, asking which songs had the best drum work, and compiled a list of his five most iconic drum parts.
5. Anthem (Fly By Night, 1975)
Selected by Addam Parsons
The first track on Peart’s first album with Rush, “Anthem” is one of the earliest instances of Peart boasting his impressive drumming skills, raising the bar for all drummers, not just in prog rock. It didn’t stop here, though. The band’s sophomore record was only the start of something incredible.
4. La Villa Strangiato (Hemispheres, 1978)
Selected by Paul Hutchings
A definite highlight of the Hemispheres album, “La Villa Strangiato” features some of Peart’s most meticulous and melodic drum work. The musicality of Peart’s drumming is on full display during an intense buildup and explosive culmination during the guitar solo.
3. Tom Sawyer (Moving Pictures, 1981)
Selected by Addam Parsons
The drum patterns throughout “Tom Sawyer” stand out just as much and are just as, if not more, memorable than the many guitar hooks and catchy vocal sections the song contains. The song is a rite of passage for drummers and air drummers everywhere, in a huge part due to those drum rolls—you know the ones.
2. Xanadu (A Farewell to Kings, 1977)
Selected by Dustin Parsons
Undoubtedly one of Peart’s more flashy performances, “Xanadu” was the perfect opportunity for the Rush sticksman to showboat a little bit, making proper use of more drums, chimes and bells than anyone would think necessary on a kit, and proving all his equipment wasn’t just there to look cool (which it did, of course). Clocking it at over 11 minutes long, the entire track is full of relentlessly head-spinning beats and fills.
1. Drum Solo (The Presto Tour, 1990)
One of many things Peart was known for as a drummer were his immense live solos. It wouldn’t be right to not include one on this lst, and his solos on the band’s “Presto” tour in 1990 were some of his most bombastic of all time. Seamlessly blending methodical virtuosity and smouldering strength looked so effortless when Peart did it--yet there’s hardly a moment of this solo that wouldn’t have even the most accomplished of drummers throwing down their sticks in frustration a couple times practicing it. While there are countless drummers who channel inspiration from Peart into their music, the world will never see another quite like him.