The Ongoing History of New Music, episode 874a: Remembering Neil Peart

Over the decades, drummers haven’t received a lot of respect. The jokes. The running gag in Spinal Tap. The issues so many groups seem to have finding the right drummer.

But there are also those who stand out. They’re not only admired but worshiped. And not just by other drummers or other musicians but why everyone who has heard them play. They’re that good, that special.

I’ve played drums since I was in high school, later playing in a series of going-nowhere bands. I also worked as drum teacher as a way to get my way through university and I still play today. Wanna know why? Neil Peart of Rush.

My first exposure to him was through a stereo salesman demonstrating a pair of JBL speakers by playing “By-Tor and the Snow Dog” from Rush’s Fly by Night album. I was immediately sucked in by Neil’s playing. And when the song gets to those three drum breaks, I was hooked for life.

This lead to seeking out “Overture/Temples of Syrinx” from 2112. And that’s the moment I decided I needed to learn how to play the drums. Same thing for millions of other kids.

For someone who played so hard, so loud, and with such complexity, Neil was the quiet on within Rush, the introvert, the reluctant drumming institution. Interviews with Neil were rare. Meet’n’greets with fans were always handled by Geddy and Alex. It was just understood that Neil did not do these things.

This made him even more fascinating in my eyes because believe or not, I’m a hardcore introvert, too. And the fact that he was so bookish and nerdy–well, that was me as well. Yet he was a rock star.

I’ve probably seen Rush in concert more times than any other artist. I’ve traveled to different countries to see them. I’ve worked on Rush projects for their record label. I know everyone in their management company. I’ve hung out with Alex and worked with Geddy, I never, ever got a chance to meet Neil. Not. Once.

I, like so many others, have unending respect for his abilities as a drummer, a lyricist/poet, and a writer. He was a thinker, articulate, a fan of sci-fi, and extremely well-read. And for those who knew him, a wicked sense of humour.

Stay with me as we remember Neil Peart with a special two-hour Ongoing History.

Songs heard on this show:

  • Closer to the Heart
  • Anthem
  • Overture/Temples of Syrinx
  • Cygnus X-1
  • La Villa Stangiato
  • The Spirit of Radio
  • Tom Sawyer
  • YYZ
  • Subdivisions
  • The Big Money
  • Time Stands Still
  • BU2B
  • Where’s My Thing (Live)
  • Limelight

Here’s Eric Wilhite’s playlist.

NOTE: This program was specially-created and will run on many radio stations that don’t normally carry this program. Here, though, is the regular network.

The Ongoing History of New Music can be heard on the following stations:

We’re still looking for more affiliates in Calgary, Kamloops, Kelowna, Regina, Saskatoon, Brandon, Windsor,  Montreal, Halifax, Charlottetown, Moncton, Fredericton, and St John’s and anywhere else with a transmitter. If you’re in any of those markets and you want the show, lemme know and I’ll see what I can do.

If you ever miss a show, you can always get the podcast edition available through Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your on-demand audio.

© 2020 Corus Radio, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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