Skip to main content

Watch 11-year old Nandi Bushell tackle Rush's Tom Sawyer

Nandi Bushell behind her drum kit
(Image credit: Nandi Bushell/YouTube)

Neil Peart's drum roll at about two and a half minutes into Rush's 1981 classic Tom Sawyer is one of the most iconic moments from the illustrious career of the man dubbed 'The Professor'. And it poses no problem to 11-year old drumming sensation Nandi Bushell, as she proves in a new video she's posted on YouTube.

"This one is for you Professor Peart," says Bushell. "I wanted to try a Rush song that would really challenge me. I watched an interview were The Professor said Tom Sawyer 'remains so difficult to play'. So I thought I would give it a try. It's actually really fun to play. I really hope I have done the song justice, Professor Peart's playing is incredible. I hope I got the strength and smoothness balance right. I have a new found love for Rush now too!"

Bushell's version drew a warm response form Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson, who tweeted (opens in new tab): "Oh Nandi Bushell, you brought a tear to my eye with this tribute! Tom Sawyer is a difficult song to play drums to and you made it so much fun. Neil would have loved your performance and wonderful smile, as both Geddy and I do! - Alex."

British music prodigy Bushell's something of an internet sensation, having garnered acclaim for her covers of the likes of Led Zeppelin, Queens Of The Stone Age and My Chemical Romance, and has shared stages and screens with Queen drummer Roger Taylor and Ringo Starr, among others.

She also engaged in an extremely popular drum battle with Foo Fighters mainman Dave Grohl. It all started when Bushell posted her drum cover of the Foos' hit Everlong and challenged Grohl to a “drum-off”. The two proceeded to do battle over the course of several videos, and it all finally came to a head in August 2021, when Bushell joined the band onstage at the Los Angeles Forum

You can watch Nandi's take on Tom Sawyer below.

Buy the latest issue of Prog Magazine (opens in new tab).

Jerry Ewing
Jerry Ewing

Writer and broadcaster Jerry Ewing is the Editor of Prog Magazine which he founded for Future Publishing in 2009. He grew up in Sydney and began his writing career in London for Metal Forces magazine in 1989. He has since written for Metal Hammer, Maxim, Vox, Stuff and Bizarre magazines, among others. He created and edited Classic Rock Magazine for Dennis Publishing in 1998 and is the author of a variety of books on both music and sport, including Wonderous Stories; A Journey Through The Landscape Of Progressive Rock, as well as sleevenotes for many major record labels. He lives in North London and happily indulges a passion for AC/DC, Chelsea Football Club and Sydney Roosters.