The rock world reacts to the death of Neil Peart

Neil Peart in April 1984
Neil Peart: 1952 - 2020 (Image credit: Fin Costello / Getty Images)

The world of rock has paid tribute to Rush drummer Neil Peart, who died on Tuesday after succumbing to brain cancer. He was 67.

The news was confirmed by his Rush bandmates Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson, who said: "It is with broken hearts and the deepest sadness that we must share the terrible news that on Tuesday our friend, soul brother and band mate of over 45 years, Neil, has lost his incredibly brave three and a half year battle with brain cancer (Glioblastoma)."

Fellow drummer Mike Portnoy, whose own playing was heavily influenced by Peart, wrote: "It absolutely breaks my heart to pieces to get the news of the passing of one of my greatest heroes of all time. Neil Peart will always be a mentor and a hero to me and his influence on me as a drummer for the past 40 years is absolutely impossible to measure.

"But beyond that, over the past 15 years or so, he’s become a friend... always such a gentleman and a gracious host. Always inviting me to come to soundcheck and spend some time before the show whenever Rush was passing through. Always sending complimentary copies of his new books, or holiday emails with pictures of he and his young daughter Olivia."

He continued: "I have so many memories through the years, but probably the most special was the last time I saw him. I took my son Max to see Rush on their farewell tour as I wanted him to see the band before they retired. Neil, ever the incredible gracious host, invited us to soundcheck, let Max play his drums, gave him a pair of sticks and an autographed snare drum head and opened up his dressing room to us for the evening. The point is, if you were his guest you were family."

Foo Fighters leader Dave Grohl called Peart “a kind, thoughtful, brilliant man” in a statement which reads: “Today, the world lost a true giant in the history of rock and roll. An inspiration to millions with an unmistakable sound who spawned generations of musicians – like myself – to pick up two sticks and chase a dream. 

"A kind, thoughtful, brilliant man who ruled our radios and turntables not only with his drumming, but also his beautiful words.”

He adds: “I still vividly remember my first listen of 2112 when I was young. It was the first time I really listened to a drummer. And since that day, music has never been the same. His power, precision, and composition was incomparable. He was called ‘The Professor’ for a reason: We all learned from him.

Today, the world lost a true giant in the history of rock and roll. An inspiration to millions with an unmistakable sound who spawned generations of musicians

Dave Grohl

“Thank you, Neil for making our lives a better place with your music. You will be forever remembered and sorely missed  by all of us. And my heartfelt condolences to the Rush family."

Drummer Taylor Hawkins added: “Neil Peart had the hands of God. End of story.”

Elsewhere on social media, Kiss guitarist Paul Stanley wrote: "Absolutely Horrible News. Neal Peart has died after fighting brain cancer for years. His later life was filled with so much family tragedy. So, so sad. I’m just shocked." 

His partner in Kiss, Gene Simmons, said: "My prayers and condolences to the Peart family, fans and friends. Neil was a kind soul. R.I.P."

Black Sabbath's Geezer Butler said: "Sad to hear of Neil Peart passing. RIP."

Broadcaster Eddie Trunk wrote: "One of my favourite days ever doing TV at VH1 Classic back in 2006. Spent the day doing an hour interview with Neil Peart. Hope someone finds it and reposts online. One of the nicest most grounded people I ever met."

King Diamond said: "It is unbelievably sad to hear that my favourite drummer of all time, Neil Peart, has left us. Very hard to find words to properly express the level of inspiration and influence he had on so so many musicians. He will forever remain at the top of my list. Farewell to a true king."

Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian said: "The greatest of all time. RIP Neil Peart. I’m going to go raise a glass and then air-drum the shit out of Tom Sawyer."

Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett went with a brief: "RIP to a master", while musician and comedian Jack Black had similar sentiments, saying: "The master will be missed - Neil Peart RIP".

Bass player Billy Sheehan said: "My deepest and most sincere condolences to Neil’s family and friends, and to Rush fans everywhere. What a brilliant and wonderful man. He left his mark on the world, music, drumming and so much more. With absolute love and Respect, Rest In Peace."  

Beach Boys legend Brian Wilson posted on Instagram: "I feel real bad about this – he was way too young. Neil was one of the great drummers and he’ll be missed. Love and mercy to Neil’s family."

E Street drummer Max Weinberg wrote: "So saddened by the passing of Neil Peart. Drumming legend as we all know but a truly kind man. Personally arranged for my son, Jay – then a teenager – to open at a venue in Boston for Rush. Huge for an aspiring drummer! Condolences to his family from our family."

Other artists have paid tribute to Peart, including Slash, Nickelback, Judas Priest, Korn drummer Ray Luzier, Whitesnake frontman David Coverdale and more.

Find a list of tributes below.

RIP #NeiPeart Slash

A photo posted by @slash on Jan 10, 2020 at 1:24pm PST

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.