Drumming icon Neil Peart of Rush dies of cancer at 67

Neil Peart, the legendary drummer who was one-third of the iconic rock trio Rush, has died of cancer at the age of 67. 

A statement released by the band said Peart lost a 3 1/2-year battle with brain cancer Tuesday. Peart died at his home in Santa Monica, according to a statement from his representative.

Revered by drummers throughout many generations, Peart's talent influenced bands and is often cited as one of the best drummers to have ever sat behind a kit. 

Peart joined Rush following the group's eponymous 1974 debut album. His addition began to move Rush away from straightforward '70s rock to a more progressive style of music. After joining the band, Peart drew on his insatiable appetite for reading and became the band's primary lyricist. His intellect and love for books earned him the nickname "The Professor" from his bandmates and fans. 

Through decades of touring, Peart increasingly felt uncomfortable with the fame and attention the band garnered in the late '70s and early '80s.  The lyrics in "Limelight," one of the band's best known songs, sums it up with the lyric "I can't pretend a stranger is a long-awaited friend."

The band was a staple at arenas throughout the '80s, where Peart wove existential lyrics into music that increasingly evolved in different directions. 

Tragedy struck in the late 90s when Neil lost both his wife and his daughter, leading to Rush taking a hiatus.  Many wondered if they'd ever tour again.

 

However, in 2002 they released a new album and launched a supporting tour. They would continue to release albums and perform extensively through 2015.  At that point Peart, as shown in the documentary "Time Stand Still," informed bandmates Geddy Lee (bass) and Alex Lifeson (guitar) that he no longer wanted to endure the rigors of extensive touring. 

Rush was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013.

A statement posted to the band's social media pages asked fans to respect the privacy of Peart's family, but encouraged fans to make a donation to a cancer research group or charity in Peart's name if they wished to express their condolences.

AP wires contributed to this report.

 

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