In Memoriam: Neil Peart, Rush Drummer And ‘Faith-Basher,’ Dead At 67

In Memoriam: Neil Peart, Rush Drummer And ‘Faith-Basher,’ Dead At 67 January 10, 2020

“I will choose a path that’s clear – I will choose free will”: Neil Peart, drummer and lyricist for the progressive rock band Rush, is dead at 67. 

Rolling Stone reports:

Neil Peart, the drummer and lyricist for Rush, died Tuesday, January 7th, in Santa Monica, California at age 67. The cause was brain cancer, which he had been quietly battling for three years, according to Elliott Mintz, a spokesperson for the Peart family. A representative for the band confirmed the news to Rolling Stone.

Peart was widely considered one of the best drummers in rock history, with a flamboyant yet utterly precise style. He joined singer-bassist Geddy Lee and guitarist Alex Lifeson in Rush in 1974, and his virtuosic playing and literate lyrics  – which drew on Ayn Rand and science fiction, among other influences – helped make Rush one of the key bands of the classic-rock era. A rigorous autodidact and a gifted writer, he was also the author of numerous books.

Peart was a brilliant drummer, and a brilliant lyricist, who wrote thought provoking, intellectually challenging lyrics that fired the imagination. His lyrics touched on science fiction, fantasy, and philosophy, as well as secular and humanitarian concerns. 

In addition to writing the lyrics for Rush, Peart wrote travelogues, short stories, essays, and books of cultural criticism. Indeed, he was a true Renaissance man, and he shall be missed.

In an in-depth interview with Peart conducted by Jim Ladd that originally aired on February 3rd, 2015, the drummer and lyricist discussed his disdain for the rampant religious superstition he saw permeating the American Bible Belt, while also noting that one need not fear punishment or seek reward in order to be a decent person.

In the interview Peart said:

 And people will say to me “Why are you a faith-basher?” And I say well, I don’t feel like a faith-basher, and it’s not something I’ve thought about all day. It’s something that my life has been full without any of that aspect, I don’t really understand it or understand why it’s needed, and it’s a kind of brainwashing in almost all cases where poor children have been brought up and formed into these molds, that you are suddenly this ‘ism’ that is after your name from the time you’re born. They don’t choose it, and for whatever reasons they never do question it, where I did from the beginning. I went to Sunday school as a little kid and when they’d tell us to sing the song about god watches each sparrow fall and all of that, and I said well no, I don’t really think so. When you look at the world now, I saw the comic and the great writer Stephen Fry the other day talking about that, he said people would say “what if you went to heaven and met God?” And he said oh, that wouldn’t be a pleasant meeting. I’d say why did you create those parasites that grow behind babies’ eyes and destroy their vision on the way out and all of that. That’s not any kind of a god to be worshiping, is it?

And I always say too, if I’m going to go up to heaven and meet St. Peter and Jesus and God and Allah and Buddah, whichever one you wanna pick, I’m gonna be okay, because I have lived a life based on that and I believe in generosity and charity and kindness and courtesy, those are things that just seem good to me anyway, I don’t need a threat to make me behave that way and I don’t need a reward.

(Transcript via Ed Brayton)

In an August 2012 interview with Maclean’s magazine, Peart discussed his puzzlement with Christians who voted with the Republican party, noting:

It is impossible to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and be a Republican. It’s philosophically absolutely opposed—if they could only think about what they were saying for a minute.

While many believed that Peart was an atheist, according to reports, Peart only explicitly discussed his religious views in his book The Masked Rider: Cycling in West Africa, in which he writes:

I’m a linear thinking agnostic, but not an atheist, folks.

Bottom line: Neil Peart, drummer and lyricist for the progressive rock band Rush, is dead at 67. 

You can choose a ready guide

In some celestial voice

If you choose not to decide

You still have made a choice

You can choose from phantom fears

And kindness that can kill

I will choose a path that’s clear

I will choose free will

In Memoriam: Neil Peart, Rush Drummer And ‘Faith-Basher,’ Dead At 67 (Image via YouTube)
In Memoriam: Neil Peart, Rush Drummer And ‘Faith-Basher,’ Dead At 67 (Image via YouTube)
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