1952 – 2020
Mr. Neil Peart left this world on January 7, 2020. The music and philosophy of their art took ahold of this writer in 1981 and continues to this day. Tom Sawyer was in constant rotation on MTV in 1981 as was Red Barchetta and Limelight. Hook, line and Sinker. Never looked back. RUSH’s music became an obsession. All the albums (records) were procured and obsessed over.
When 1982 arrived this Subdivision kid was primed for new RUSH! That was always the best part, looking forward to new music from them. The arrival of every new RUSH album became an event with ritualistic devotion well into middle-age. Signals put me over the edge and this writer dove headfirst into Cygnus X-1.
1984 arrived and my Mama (and Dad) even allowed me to skip school to go get the new album. This was in Austin, Texas. We lived in the Hill Country. God Bless my Mom, she drove me all the way into Willowbrook Mall for me to buy their new album on release day: Grace Under Pressure, April 1984. Arriving home this listener was ensconced in his room digesting the new music, the artwork and…the Lyrics. Mr. Peart’s lyrics took their music to a whole new level. The man went deep. Deep Dives. RUSH’s music is about LIFE.
A mere year later and lo and behold, new RUSH! Power Windows. Once again my saint of a mom drove me into Austin to purchase a copy. Power Windows sent me into the stratosphere with their music. They were peaking. Mom took us to see them perform in January 1986. Us being my little brother and my friend Robert. We were way back in the nosebleeds. Several pot smoking audience members sitting behind us were hitting on my mom. Woah. A Geddycorn they probably thought. They were cool. When are RUSH fans never cool? My mama was 42 at the time. Me a 16 year old pimpled teen.
1987 brought Hold Your Fire and a lonely teenage time newly living in San Diego my junior and senior years. Starting over, lessons Mr. Peart taught us through his music and words time and again. My good friend and this writer sprung for 5th row seats to see them perform at the San Diego Sports arena in the spring of 1988. At the show’s conclusion all these red balloons dropped from the ceiling. Hold Your Fire.
Autumn 1989 brought Presto while this writer was newly assigned to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona. New RUSH! It snowed that Christmas in Tucson and my girlfriend and me religiously drove through the snow dusted Saguaro National Monument jamming Presto tunes LOUD on the car stereo:
-Energy is contagious, enthusiasm spreads…tides respond to lunar gravitation, everything turns in synchronous relation. — ‘Chain Lightning’
-Boys and girls together
Mistake conceit for pride
Ambition for illusion
Dreams for self-delusion
Girls and boys together
See what it is we lack
Boys and girls together
Let’s paint the mirror black
Paint it black — ‘War Paint’
1991 brought Roll The Bones and my departure from the Air Force into college at the University of Arizona. A life of chance. New RUSH! These guys kept banging them out. Always new material to think about, ponder, spend time with. Reflect.
1993’s Counterparts took RUSH into a new and heavier period sonically through their final musical years. Counterparts harkens back to 2112 era RUSH with a colossal 3-piece guitar centered sound. The lyrics grew deeper as did their playing.
3 years later they resurfaced with Test For Echo and for this writer it’s one of their best efforts. In 1996 Mr. Peart envisioned the digital age we now live in. It was ahead of its time. T4E sounds HUGE and captures RUSH nearing the height of their powers. Seeing them perform May 8, 1997 in Phoenix, Arizona was the best musical performance this writer ever witnessed. Enjoying from behind the mixing boards, RUSH were impeccably tight and commanding. One Brain. ONE RUSH.
Sadly, and tragically, Mr. Peart then suffered horrendous losses with his daughter dying in a single car accident in 1997, and his wife succumbing to cancer less than a year later in 1998.
RUSH then took a long sabbatical which Mr. Peart wrote about in his book Ghost Rider, riding over 55,000 miles on his motorcycle throughout North and Central America. He kept moving. Talk about triumph of the human spirit in the face of devastating events. Mr. Peart fell in love again, re-married and started a new family.
After 6 years since their last studio release, RUSH returned with a vengeance in 2002 releasing Vapor Trails, Snakes and Arrows in 2007 & ultimately Clockwork Angels in 2012…new RUSH x3! In their later musical career they experienced a creative resurgence and a surge in popularity. Retiring in 2015 after 40+ years as a prolific musical trio was rightly celebrated on the R40 tour that same year. They leave behind a massive and stellar body of work to explore and enjoy. Mr. Peart gave so much of himself to all of us in his short life sharing his many gifts. Life is short. Rest in peace, Mr. Peart, and God Bless you and your family. God Bless us All.
“One Little Victory…A Spirit Breaking Free.” -Neil Peart, AKA – The Professor