For nearly five decades, alongside Rush bandmates Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson, the iconic drummer has remained a household name — specifically for aspiring drummers growing up in Canada.
From his incredibly complex songwriting that launched Rush into fame or his gargantuan collection of oversized drum kits, to that much-beloved tetrad of mini-solos towards the end of the 1981 anthem Tom Sawyer, Peart was beloved by millions across the globe for a plethora of reasons.
To honour a Canadian legend, we here at Global News wanted to look back at some of Peart’s finest moments throughout his astounding career.
With this article, we’d like to acknowledge Peart’s contributions to not only rock music, but the people he has inspired over the years.
Since Rush’s formation, the band played well over 2,000 shows around the world, meaning to pick Peart’s “best” drum solos would be nearly impossible.
Instead, here are some of the musician’s most memorable performances (with a couple of jaw-droppingly impressive drum solos sprinkled in between):
Peart’s take on The Hockey Theme
How could the nation’s (unofficial) national anthem get any better? Neil Peart. The most Canadian video in existence? Quite possibly.
When he rendered all drum solos before his inadequate during The Late Show‘s “drum solo week”
In 2011, David Letterman, then host of The Late Show, invited some of the world’s most accomplished drummers to take the stage for what he called “drum solo week,” where each of the musicians would play a drum solo to the live studio audience.
To close out that week, Letterman invited Peart, who performed a blistering, five-minute solo, rendering the works of those before him — Anton Fig, Sheila E. and Roy Haynes — pointless.
Remember YYZ? Here, Peart takes the utterly complex 1981 classic five steps further
As most fans already know, YYZ is the infamous Rush instrumental written about Toronto’s Pearson International Airport.
To spice up the already-incomprehensible musicianship in the song, however, Peart displayed his skills even further with an added drum solo during this 1980s performance — which even features a xylophone.
He wasn’t just a mind-boggingly talented drummer, he was a truly funny man, and a good sport
Two years after the release of I Love You Man (2009), which stars Jason Segel and Paul Rudd as a couple of diehard Rush fans, Funny or Die reunited the comedy duo with the Canadian rockers, giving the band members themselves a chance to show off their sense of humour.
Peart comes across as an irritable, tough-shelled individual as part of the sketch, but his true colours shine with some of his knee-slapping quips, including the self-aware line in which he jokes about “seven females at a Rush concert” being “some kind of a world record.”
Peart was a truly diverse performer as shown in this sweat-inducing jazz performance
Whether you listen to Rush or not, it’s likely you’re aware of Peart and his talents — especially if you’re Canadian. However, some might not be aware of his iconic 1994 performance alongside the Buddy Rich Big Band.
Here, Peart’s drumming abilities are amplified tenfold when he whips out a furious jazz solo and somehow manages to still make it look easy.
Do you agree with any of our choices? Which performances come to your mind when reflecting on Neil Peart’s career? Share them in the comments section below.
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