Neil’s career with Rush has been very well documented, but the years before that are somewhat less so.
He was born to Glen and Betty Peart in Hamilton on September 12, 1952, and spent the first few years of his life on the family dairy far. Later, everyone moved to Port Dalhousie (now part of St. Catharines) where his dad ran and International Harvester dealership. Tractor parts were his thing.
Neil started playing drums at age 13 and soon graduated to playing in local bands when he was 15. His first concert was The Who at Exhibition Stadium. Keith Moon was one of his heroes.
At age 18, he was part of a St. Catharines band called J.R.Flood, but that was unfulfilling. Quitting school, he moved to London where he tried out the music scene in a variety of groups before ended up selling jewelry on Carnaby Street.
This brings us to this photo. Anil, a regular read of this site, teaches photography to high school kids. Wilfred Grenzberg, the grandfather of one of Anil’s students, told a story about how he ran into Neil during a trip to London in 1971. Neil was one of Grenzberg’s former English students in high school–and one of the few teachers Neil really liked.
Anil’s student brought in the negative and it was reproduced. Here’s the result.
Neil would later give up on England, returning home to the tractor dealership, disillusioned by his future as a musician. Still, he forged ahead going a band called Hush. It was after that another band calling–a struggling outfit from suburban Toronto. And the rest is history.