Neil Peart, one of the greatest if not THE greatest rock and roll drummers of all time, died after a three year battle with cancer. He was 67.
I have been completely amazed by the outpouring of appreciation for Peart from people I would never have expected in a million years. I am just genuinely surprised by the diversity of the people in my timeline on twitter, on fb, and elsewhere, who have all mentioned his death and the loss. I mean, I knew he was amazing, but I had no idea he was this widely appreciated by so many others. Peart like to state that Rush always wanted to stay the disaffected 16 year old teenage boy- I guess there are a lot of us out there, male and female alike. Perhaps my favorite quote regarding his death was “Your favorite drummer’s favorite drummer has died.”
One of the things about getting older (and I am still relatively young at 49), is watching the waves of events that seem to surround you. Early 20’s, the first round of friends marrying, grandparents dying; late 20’s and early 30’s, first rounds of friend’s kids and divorces; late 30’s and early 40’s, people’s parents and cultural icons from your youth, friend’s second marriages, friend’s kids graduating from college; late 40’s, your teenage heroes dying of natural causes, your friends start to die prematurely, and the generations ahead of you start to die off rapidly. In my small town of 300, four people in their late 70’s and early 80’s have died in the past few months. Harry Chambers, proprietor of the general store in town, and I were talking, and we noted that a couple more obituaries and we’re going to be the next generation under the gun. I said that I am not sure I am ready for that, and we both agreed that we don’t have much of a choice.
That’s kind of what is so remarkable about groups like Rush, for me. I understand that they are not for everyone, and that’s fine, but for me, all of the world has changed in the past four to five decades, but when I put 2112 on my earphones, I am again lying on the floor of the college radio station, lights turned out, speakers turned to 11, escaping from it all.