It’s Not Good, Rush Fans: Neil Peart Has Apparently Retired. Or Did He? [UPDATE: He Did NOT]

UPDATE: Good news, Rush fans: Rumours of Neil Peart’s retirement have been deep-sixed. They began when we started reading a little too much into some comments made in an interview (see bel0w). The truth is that Neil is still with Rush and that Rush is still a going concern. The Guardian clear things up.

On 7 December, when the story went viral across various music websites, the headlines were unequivocal. “Rush drummer Neil Peart has retired,” said Metal Injection, complete with tongue-in-cheek “Bummer Alert:. For fans of the multi-million selling Canadian band – described by Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett as “the high priests of conceptual metal” – this was indeed a bummer of epic proportions.

Neil Peart is no ordinary drummer. In the sphere of heavy rock, Peart is, by popular consensus, second only to the late John Bonham of Led Zeppelin. And just as Bonham’s death in 1980 was the end of Led Zeppelin, so the virtuoso Peart is irreplaceable to the band he has served as drummer and lyricist since 1974. If the story were true, that was it for Rush.

The source was an article that the 63-year-old Peart wrote for Drumhead magazine, in which he referred to comments made by his young daughter. “Lately, Olivia has been introducing me to new friends at school as ‘My dad – he’s a retired drummer.’ True to say, funny to hear.” Peart went on to quote a line he wrote for a 1982 Rush song. “It does not pain me to realise that, like all athletes, there comes a time to … take yourself out of the game. I would rather set it aside then face the predicament described in our song Losing It (‘Sadder still to watch it die, than never to have known it’).”

Keep calm and read on.

Here’s the original article.

This was news that I’d feared was coming, When Rush when on their R40 tour, Geddy and Alex were all for playing more dates. I had various conversations with them before and during the tour.

Alex: “We could have played a week’s worth of shows in LA, but…”

Geddy: “It’s a shame that we couldn’t play all the cities we wanted to. Winnipeg, Pittsburgh, a bunch of them, but…”

Alex: “I’m feeling better on this tour than I have in a long time. I could play forever, but…”

Geddy: “To do Europe one more time would have been cool, but…”

But…what? But for Neil Peart.

Of the three members of the band, Neil was the least interested in going on the road again. In fact, he’d rather the band didn’t. But the band’s 40th anniversary offered an opportunity to make a silly amount of money for the band, their label and their management company and for the people that support that Rush machine.

“I’ll do it,” he said, “but there’s a finite number of gigs I’ll play. Here’s the number.” And that’s the number that defined the R40 tour.

When the tour ended, there was all kind of speculation that Rush was done. The only thing that management would confirm is that Rush’s live appearances would be severely curtained in the future. There would be more projects–reissues, box sets, DVDs, whatever–but there wouldn’t be much in the way of concerts. Special occassions, maybe.

But now comes this: if Rush is going to continue as its clasic line-up–the one that’s been together since 1974–they’re going to have to coax Neil out of retirement.

According to a couple of sources, Neil has announced his retirement with this quote: “Like all athletes, there comes a time to take yourself out of the game.”

Oh, shit. This isn’t good.

Here’s more from Drumhead Magazine (via Aux). Olivia is his daughter.

Lately Olivia has been introducing me to new friends at school as ‘My dad–He’s a retired drummer.’ True to say–funny to hear. And it does not pain me to realize that, like all athletes, there comes a time to take yourself out of the game. I would rather set it aside then face the predicament described in our song ‘Losing It’ (‘Sadder still to watch it die, than never to have known it’).

Again: oh, shit.

But when he says “retired,” does he mean just from touring? Or is he opting out of Rush entirely?

I somehow thing it’s the latter. Rush people and those associated with the band and their label have repeated told me that the group is going to continue doing various things. Just not tours.

So maybe this is all an overreaction to a to a random quote. And maybe we shouldn’t read anything into Geddy’s remark about making a solo album.

Hang on, people. Let’s wait for some solid clarification.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

One thought on “It’s Not Good, Rush Fans: Neil Peart Has Apparently Retired. Or Did He? [UPDATE: He Did NOT]

  • December 8, 2015 at 2:11 pm
    Permalink

    Either way I’m so glad I drove down the west coast to catch them last July in Irvine California. Amazing show, and probably my last shot at seeing them again.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.