We start the first blog of the new year with the sad news of Neil Peart's passing. Peart was a massive influence on myself and so many of my colleagues, especially the Canadian ones. For most of us, he was our first drumming influence, and like many early heroes, our relationship ebbs and flows over time. He wasn't the grooviest drummer of all time, all his parts were planned out far in advance, and I feel those Buddy Rich tribute recordings he was in charge of caused even more misunderstanding of Buddy's contribution than there was previously. That said, he advanced drumming, created many classic lyrics, proved one could be an extremely successful musician while having a good relationship with one's family and bandmates, and played the music he thought it should be played. He was a beacon to many young drummers ( especially Canadian ones ) and was an example to all of us of how to conduct oneself with honour and integrity.
I'm not afraid to admit I learned to play Ska from playing along with this recording. As Canadian a cultural experience as hockey, or the maple leaf itself.
I think it's also important to note that whatever your opinion of Rush is ( and I remain a massive fan ) is that Peart and his bandmates made you want to play better, play more interesting, challenging arrangements and not compromise on your vision.
Safe journey Professor and thank you for the music and inspiration.