Neil Peart, the drummer and lyricist for the groundbreaking Canadian band Rush, has died at 67 of brain cancer, the band said in a statement Friday.
“It is with broken hearts and the deepest sadness that we must share the terrible news that on Tuesday, our friend, soul brother and band mate of over 45 years, Neil, has lost his incredibly brave three-and-a-half year battle” with glioblastoma, the band posted to Twitter.
Glioblastoma is the same form of brain cancer that killed Sens. Edward Kennedy and John McCain.
The band said anyone wishing to express their condolences could donate to a cancer charity of their choice.
Neil Peart September 12, 1952 – January 7, 2020 pic.twitter.com/NivX2RhiB8
— Rush (@rushtheband) January 10, 2020
Peart joined Rush in 1974, after their first album, and quickly became one of the most idolized drummers in rock music for his ability to not only keep the best over the odd (sometimes very odd) time signatures, but play flourishes atop them that managed to feel natural. Despite the music’s complexity, “he keeps the throb, which is the important thing,” Police drummer Stewart Copeland told Rolling Stone in 2015, the year of Rush’s final tour.
Peart told the magazine that he kept his 16-year-old self in mind when making decisions in life. “It’s about being your own hero,” he said. “I set out to never betray the values that 16-year-old had, to never sell out, to never bow to the man. A compromise is what I can never accept.”
Peart, alongside bandmates Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson, were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2013, and honored for combining “the signature traits of progressive rock with a proto typical heavy-metal sound.”
Their best-known songs include “Tom Sawyer,” “The Big Money” and “The Spirit of Radio.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.