Rush — A Personal Story

As will be the case for many people, Rush has a special place in the heart of Erik Neuteboom. Honouring the day of Neil Peart's birth, Erik wrote the story that tells what Rush means to him and how it played a role in the development of his taste for progressive rock. The event that had a large impact on this development was Rush's first concert in The Netherlands, at the 1979 edition of the Pinkpop festival. This takes a central part in this story. The black-and-white photos you see here are from the Pinkpop performance, courtesy of Alex van Loon.

Today, 12 September, is the birthday of Neil Peart, born in 1952. Peart is, obviously, the highly appraised drummer of Rush, who unfortunately succumbed to brain cancer on 7 January 2020. Rush decided the stop. To honour the band and their music, I would like to look back on their history and the impact it had on my musical life, with a special emphasis on Neil Peart, as drummer ("the professor on the drums") and author, but also as a human being, "the silent genius", a wise oasis of peace between Geddy and Alex.

Erik Neuteboom


It is the summer of 1976. I am visiting a soccer friend who introduced me to symphonic and progressive rock by the likes of Genesis, Yes, ELP, King Crimson, and Camel. His younger brother also loves the music. In their attic I first heard albums by Led Zeppelin - simply amazing.

After an hour or so, the little brother asks whether I would like to hear one of their latest discoveries. He is talking about a band from Canada named Rush and shows a double live album called All The World's A Stage. He let sme hear side 3 which has, of course, 2112. It blows my mind! So dynamic and compelling, so many ideas. It sounds like progressive hard rock and although played by three amazing musicians it sounds like there are at least four. I have to get used to the sometimes screaming voice and after hearing the rest of the record I was not so convinced by side 4 with the more hard rock than progressive songs. But Rush have left an impression. There are some world-class musicians.

Rush at Pinkpop, courtesy of Alex van Loon / cygnus-X1.net

About a year later, Dutch music magazine Muziekkrant publishes a very positive review on the new Rush album titled A Farewell To Kings. Author Kees Baars (he would eventually become a big Rush fan and personal friend to Geddy Lee) talks about atmosphere, tempo changes, inventive drumming, terrifyingly good bass parts, rousing rhythm guitar, the use of classical guitar and synthesizers... In short, all the ingredients for a fascinating album, somewhere between hard rock and prog rock.

I go straight to my favorite record store, listen to some songs, and quickly get into an ultimate state of musical excitement. I buy the LP, rush home (pun intended) and go to my room to listen to the whole album. And again, and again at night, it goes on like this all week. I'm captivated by Rush!

Unfortunately, my prog friends at school are more into the symphonic side of prog and don't share my taste, they think Rush is too loud and the vocals are terrible. The new albums by Genesis, Rick Wakeman, Yes, and Pink Floyd are on their record players every day, no room for Rush with them.

The next Rush LP, Hemispheres (1978), does not change anything there. The album is much in the style of A Farewell To Kings, but the title track is sometimes a bit long-winded, in contrast to the songs The Trees and La Villa Strangiato, a unique and genius mix of hard rock and prog rock, Rush's trademark. Out of pride, I write the name Rush in big letters on my school bag, and on my diary. To me, it's almost a badge of honor. And I also wear the same kind of clothes as the members of Rush, always in jeans and T-shirts, which is a nice identification.

I am delighted to read that Rush will perform at Pinkpop 1979, their first concert on Dutch soil. Unfortunately, still none of my prog friends share my love for Rush, and so on June 4, 1979 I travel alone to see Rush at Pinkpop.

Rush has won a lot of new fans at Pinkpop 1979. Rush appears to be very much alive in the late 1970s, and on their way to international recognition. Which is a stark contrast to a few years before, when Rush was almost a thing of the past.

But first a bit of history.

The Early Beginning — 1968

Rush at Pinkpop, courtesy of Alex van Loon / cygnus-X1.net The story of Rush begins in the second half of the 1960s. Neighbors Alex Lifeson (son of Yugoslav immigrants named Zivojinovic) and John Rutsey grow up together. In the fall of '68, Alex and John invite bassist/vocalist Jeff Jones to form a group. The trio will play hard rock songs under the name Rush, an invention of John's older brother Bill. The first concert of the three adolescents takes place in a coffee shop called Coff-In. There are 30 spectators, including many friends and acquaintances.

Just before the next performance (they can now play on Friday evening in the Coff-In), Jeff calls. He prefers to go to a party of an acquaintance. Alex calls a bassist he used to jam with and who he knows from Fisherville Junior High School. His official name is Gary Lee Weinrib but because of the pronunciation by his mother with her Yiddish accent, his nickname is Geddy. Geddy's first instrument was an acoustic guitar, but when the bassist dropped out of one of his groups, it was logical that Geddy took over.

Geddy accepts Alex's telephone invitation to fill in for Jeff this once. However, Geddy's debut suits everyone so well that they exchange Geddy for Jeff. The young trio will rehearse a lot with covers by Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Jeff Beck, Rolling Stones, and Elvis Presley as their repertoire. Soon, some of their own compositions are added, with a preference for the blues. Their very first song is called Losing Again.

After some changes in the line-up and even the temporary break-up of Rush, Alex, Geddy and John reform the trio Rush. They decide to write more of their own material in order to develop their own identity. The release of the debut LP is delayed due to the oil crisis, so that the LP Rush will not be released until January 1974.

Rush debut album, 1974

It is very clear in their that Rush has played covers of established rock bands for years. Especially Led Zeppelin influences seep through, in addition to Black Sabbath and Cream. Through various channels, the American record company Mercury Records becomes interested. They are impressed by the sound of Rush after they have received a tape. Rush is finally successful after hard work. And then drummer John Rutsey is not happy with the situation, playing in a rock band, his health appears to be a bit of a problem, and Rush's new direction is not to his liking. He resigns, and Rush has to find a replacement.

A New Drummer — 1974

Fly By Night, 1974 Caress of Steel, 1975

After a few auditions in the summer of 1974, the duo choose Neil Peart (born in 1952), an energetic and enthusiastic drummer, unsurprisingly a big fan of John Bonham, Ginger Baker, and Keith Moon. At the age of 13, he received a drum set from his parents and starts drum lessons. He has played in various groups since his adolescence, and even had a failed London adventure at the age of 18. Neil impresses during the audition and can get started right away. Rush starts to build fame through an intensive tour circuit. His first concert with Rush is as a support act at a festival with Uriah Heep and Manfred Mann's Earth Band.

Then Rush plays during a North American tour as support act for Hawkwind, Nazareth, Blue Öyster Cult, Kiss, and the Italian PFM. This starts the chemical reaction between the gentlemen. Neil also writes lyrics, often sci-fi and on mythology, with a philosophical slant.

Rush at Pinkpop, courtesy of Alex van Loon / cygnus-X1.net Rush's second LP is called Fly By Night and will be recorded in ten days, The release is in February 1975. What immediately stands out about Rush is the tighter group sound, especially due to Neil's driving drumming. Furthermore, Lifeson's guitar playing sounds more varied (strumming, slide and solos with wah-wah pedal) and Lee's bass playing is more powerful. The acoustic guitar in Rush (by both Lee and Lifeson) is an extra dimension on this album.

The band's success is increasing. A heavy gigging schedule gives them more and more fans, a close group of loyal fans forms a true cult following. The group slowly work their way up from fourth or third group to main act. While traveling to the many concerts and back, the group write their material for the new album Caress Of Steel. This third LP is moderately to poorly received, unfortunately.

Many fans probably have some problems with the more experimental, progressive hard rock sound of longer tracks such as The Necromancer and The Fountain Of Lamneth. These compositions contain a lot of changes in atmosphere and tempo, with screeching guitar work. There are also the necessary overdubs and distorted sounds, which can come across as incoherent.

The conclusion is therefore that Rush is working hard on an own sound, but are still looking for the right balance. The tour is definitely not a success, the reactions are lukewarm. At the end of the tour the band members are very gloomy. The money is also running out, so the crew has to wait for her salary. The survival of Rush now hangs in the balance, and people are thinking about the future: just give up, or go back to the Led Zeppelin formula, or continue with their own ideas.

New Album Saves Rush — 1976

In the end, especially Neil Peart knows to motivate the group to choose the latter. Thanks to the lobbying of a number of people within Mercury who believe in a special concept by drummer Neil Peart (a future story based on the sci-fi novel by English writer Ayn Rand), the LP 2112 is released in March 1976. Where predecessor Caress Of Steel still sounds somewhat disjointed and a bit of hit-and-miss, 2112 shows that Rush has grown and learnt from their mistakes. Here plays a group that has developed a unique sound and appears to have a lot of talent, both in terms of instruments and in the field of writing compositions. The most striking composition is the title track, an epic in six parts with strong interplay of the musicians. It will become a real Rush classic.

Another standout song is the ballad Tears, with melancholic vocals and piercing waves of Mellotron violins. Rush would only use that unique instrument here. The reactions to the new album are overwhelming. Within 1 week, a 100,000 copies are sold. Within a month, it has sold more than the first three Rush LPs combined! After this, the Massey Hall in Toronto is chosen as the home base for the recording of a double live LP, which will be released in September '76. The title is All The World's A Stage, derived from a play by Shakespeare.

Rush at Pinkpop, courtesy of Alex van Loon / cygnus-X1.net

In the meantime, working out the ideas for the long concept track 2112 has created a need in the band members to change the musical course. These are the years of the great breakthrough of symphonic rock acts such as Genesis (Wind And Wuthering period) and under that influence, Rush want more integration of keys, and resting points with acoustic guitar.

Due to the success of the album, there is now enough money for new instruments, and again the gentlemen make excellent use of them: Geddy buys keys (including a Minimoog synthesizer) and Moog Taurus bass pedals, Alex buys a Gibson double-neck guitar and also bass pedals, and Neil purchases even more percussion. The first new composition made with the newly obtained instruments is the lengthy Xanadu. A story in Time Magazine that Neil Peart read, about black holes, became the basis for the song Cygnus X-1.

Erik Neuteboom and his wall of Rush

The Development Of The Unique Power Prog Rush Sound — 1977

It sounds paradoxical, but the album 2112 was both a closure of a period and a step in a new direction: the pure hard rock is out, but the hard rock element remains present. However, the variation becomes much larger through more instruments (especially keys), the compositions become much more surprising and get more depth.

We hear this on the new album Rush released in September 1977 under title A Farewell To Kings. In the September issue of Dutch music magazine Oor that year, Kees Baars writes such a rave review that I am off to my favorite record store Supertracks to listen to all that promised beauty. Is Rush really doing so well as the renowned journalist Kees Baars analyses? Well, indeed, there are those records where you immediately feel that a group has something special. This is also the case with this album from Rush, a trio that introduces the world to a dynamic and especially creative mix of hard-rock and symphonic prog, so-called "power prog".

Rush at Pinkpop, courtesy of Alex van Loon / cygnus-X1.net The opening track A Farewell To Kings starts with classic guitar, followed by a solid rhythm with that typical Rickenbacker bass sound and smooth drum game. A howling guitar solo is preceded by a spectacular break with thumping bass tones. The next long song Xanadu contains an intro with spacey keys, guitar with swelling volume pedal and all kinds of percussion. After this, Rush develops a fascinating balance between calm and sturdy pieces with uplifting 12-string guitar, pleasant runs on the keyboards, and a lingering guitar solo with shrill swipes as a climax.

Three short songs follow with a sort of brilliant simplicity: Closer To The Heart (bright guitar solo and stroking acoustic guitar), Cinderella Man (a break with a bright guitar solo full of wah-wah and echo), and Madrigal (dreamy ballad with melancholic atmosphere). This exciting album concludes with the long Cygnus X-1, an extremely original song and Rush at its best, namely their "power prog": an intro with spacey sounds, a powerful bass that is getting closer, then the drums are first and then the guitar comes in, such a tension and excitement! Drum work is unleashed, biting guitar solos, and bright vocals, all this culminating in a grand finale.

The sales results of the album are great and the tour of Rush through Great Britain yields a series of sold-out concerts and enthusiastic responses.

The crowds and stress take their toll and everything about recordings and tours in 1977, the band take a holiday, after which they start working on the material for the album's successor. This goes pretty well and smoothly, and the new LP is already to be released in the autumn of 1978. Its title: Hemispheres.

The cover is a design by Huge Syme: just above a moon-like landscape, a few brains float, a naked man and a man in a suit look at each other. The side-long title track Cygnus X-1 Book II: Hemispheres (the word is not used in all languages, so to clarify: a hemisphere is half a globe, and is also used for one half of the brain) is an idea of Neil Peart, after reading the book Power Of Minds. It is about the basic conflict between mind and emotions, between feeling and rational ideas. This fight is in each of us every day. Much we do is led by these things. On Hemispheres, the Greek gods Apollo and Dionysius symbolise the rational and instinctive element, both politically, social, and personal. A subtle recording joke is that the word "hemispheres" is hurled from right to left as a symbolism of how it works in humans.

Rush at Pinkpop, courtesy of Alex van Loon / cygnus-X1.net

In itself, this almost twenty-minute composition sounds smoothly and tasteful. Rush manifest themselves again with their power prog as an original formation. However, occasionally my attention drifts away. It is not 2112 in terms of tension and dynamics. The following track, Circumstances falls into the progressive hard-rock category: a sturdy and swinging rhythm with inventive breaks and varied use of various instruments such as keys and acoustic guitars. The text refers to the frustrations of the trip to England.

The infectious, tragic/comic The Trees (pleasant field of tension of acoustic and electric guitar there) is about the battle between two tree groups over sunlight that is settled with the same caps of all trees ("Hatches, Axe and Saw"). The cynical thing is of course that everyone now has the same rights, but the sacrifice is great, just like in communism, according to the stories of Ayn Rand. The long song La Villa Strangiato is full of excitement and technical ingenuity. The subtitle is An Exercise In Self-Indulgence, a fine example of self-mockery. After a flamenco-like intro on the classic guitar, Rush loosens all brakes with fantastic, very uplifting and fascinating interplay of bass, guitar and drums. The highlight of this virtuoso power prog is a beautifully constructed guitar solo, first with a volume pedal and later full of sharp blows. La Villa Strangiato is the first "instrumental" of Rush, and the gentlemen will remain sparing with these over the years.

Poster for Pinkpop 1979

Pinkpop 1979

With this album, Rush prolong their status and an eight-month Hemispheres tour (140 concerts) follows, starting in Canada in 1978 and ending in Geleen, Netherlands, at the Pinkpop festival on June 4, 1979. More than 60,000 people come to this sunny Pinkpop edition (which also sees Massada, The Police, and Dire Straits on the bill), including yours truly.

As none of the symphonic prog listeners among my friends were interested, I was going on my own. I have to go to the station early by bike to take the first train from The Hague Hollands Spoor. And then to Geleen station, all the way in southern Limburg, a journey of more than three hours. Then another half hour of walking through the village to the Geleen sports park.

The audience at Pinkpop during the Rush performance

It's sunny and busy out there, and there's a big group of noisy Rush fans from Canada, with huge flags, banners ("Rush: the best band in the galaxy") and T-shirts with the cover of 2112. I talk for a while with them, but then I look for a spot in the front, to get a good look at Rush.

After enjoying Massada, Dire Straits, and The Police, among others, Rush takes the stage around 18:00h, presenting an exciting mix of old and new material. They will continue to do so for many years, to please all fans.

Rush play for over an hour (recorded by and broadcast on Dutch radio, hence the many bootlegs), performing material from all their albums to date (skipping only Caress Of Steel). From the pure hard-rock opener Anthem and the phenomenal symphonic Xanadu (which has Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee both on a double-neck guitar) to parts of the title track Hemispheres. The entire epic 2112 (the audience starts to cheer loudly at the very beginning of the opening synthesizer sounds) is played as, but only partly caught on the many bootlegs. The effect was just like when I heard it back at that soccer friend's house, my first encounter with Rush.

The inventive drum solo by top drummer Neil Peart is also a hit. The band make a big impression by perfectly performing the more complex songs such as Xanadu and La Villa Strangiato, with some extra dynamics and power - typical elements of "Rush on stage".

Four encores follow, including a smooth drum solo and the closing Something For Nothing.

Rush at Pinkpop, courtesy of Alex van Loon / cygnus-X1.net

It is now a swirling crowd of frenzied Rush fans in the front. What a great debut on Dutch grounds, and wonderful to see that Rush was received so enthusiastically!

In 2018, a reissue box of the Hemispheres album (Anthem Records) will be released with a large part of the Pinkpop concert on the bonus disc. Unfortunately it is not the entire performance, due to technical problems. The sound is fine, and you can feel the atmosphere, how positively the audience reacted.

After the world tour, Rush quickly disappears back into the studio, this time in Quebec. And again there is the wish of the band members to renew musically. People just seem to mainly have sympathy for the electronic sound of Ultravox and the exotic rhythms of Peter Gabriel and Japan.

Rush At Their Artistic Highlights — 1977 to 1981

Rush's new album, Permanent Waves, is released on January 1, 1980. The sound is beautiful and fits perfectly in the era of a strong emphasis on production. The power prog is elaborated in a more varied way on this new abum, with less traditional progressive bombast. The smooth opening track Spirit Of The Radio, for example, contains a nice reggae break and is based on a real radio program that fights against the commercial terror of the Top 40-like stations. How ironic that this song will be played en masse on those platforms. "If you choose not to decide you still have made a choice!". The final track is called Natural Science and lasts almost ten minutes. It contains a fascinating field of tension, and an exciting acceleration in tempo. The message in the lyrics is that we should see science as something precious and not as something threatening. We just have to learn to deal with it. The album Permanent Waves is a success and Rush even has a hit with Spirit Of The Radio. Rush's urge to innovate is given fresh impulses when a fascination for the music of Talking Heads, Third World, and Bob Marley follows - all very rhythmic.

In February of 1981, the following album Moving Pictures sees the light of day. The title is a play on words: besides the title meaning movies or films, depending where you live, but the cover shows paintings (pictures) being moved, with some spectators being moved (emotionally) by the pictures. Moving Pictures is widely regarded as Rush's artistic pinnacle. The first two songs, Tom Sawyer and Red Barchetta (about freedom and sexuality, with the car as a metaphor) are two inventive rock songs, a kind of "symphonic rock and roll". The loops on the Minimoog synthesizer in the catchy Tom Sawyer were originally intended to test that device because it was said it would get out of tune quickly. But Neil Peart suggested incorporating it - another genius musical intervention of his.

Rush at Pinkpop, courtesy of Alex van Loon / cygnus-X1.net

The instrumental YYZ (code from the Toronto airport) is a highlight in Rush's musical career, what a dazzling interplay between guitar, bass and drums. The Camera Eye, nearing eleven minutes in length, with lots of dynamics and variety, shows why so many prog fans cherish Rush. The brooding Witch Hunt is about prejudice, ignorance and fear. Through special effects (the sound of a restless crowd of simple folks) and a raw guitar sound (a fat Black Sabbath-like riff), the atmosphere is musically aptly interpreted. Closing track is Vital Signs, a swinging and rhythmic masterpiece that shows the love of drummer Neil Peart for reggae (in the style of The Police).

This beautiful and, above all, artistically extremely successful period in the history of the band is concluded with a live double album and a concert video, both under the name Exit... Stage Left. A bonus on here is the short acoustic track Broon's Bane, named after producer Terry Brown whose nickname is Broon. The atmosphere on all sides of the album is great, it is easy to hear how both the audience and the band are enjoying the whole event. An exciting role is played by Neil Peart - "the professor on the drum kit!". He gives a wonderful, very inventive drum solo, so much more captivating than what most drummers force upon us during concerts.

Neil Peart: Willpower And Talent

Neil Peart with Rush at the Air Canada Centre, 2012-10-14. Photo by aoberg, licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

During their first phase (1968 - 1975), Rush develop into a band with a progressive hard rock sound. The second phase (1976 – 1981) is characterised by the integration of symphonic rock, resulting in Rush's patent on the term "power prog". In the next, third phase (1982 – 1988), we see that the three band members mix their craftsmanship and musical ideas with modern trends such as reggae, new wave, and electro-pop.

The influence of Neil Peart is of great importance here, he gets the space from Alex and Geddy, and will reward them with his unique, lively and especially appreciated drumming style. But his lyrics also contribute to Rush's success. In an interview, Neil says that his first big inspiration was drummer Michael Giles of King Crimson - his talent and lack of discipline appealed to him. Neil says of himself "that he used to be a lazy and rebellious guy", and that "drums gave him structure".

Rush at Pinkpop, courtesy of Alex van Loon / cygnus-X1.net

Neil learned to play drums by playing everything he heard on the radio, then combining it and finally giving it his own twist. A drum teacher once said that if he kept working hard, Neil could definitely become a professional. Then drumming became an obsession, he even missed his teenage years because of it, Neil explained in an interview. Now he loves the feeling of working hard and sweating, exercising until his fingers bleed!

In addition to drumming, Neil also enjoys sports such as skiing, cycling and long-distance running. In general, the drummer within the group is often the one with the broadest taste. This also seems to be the case with Rush because Neil likes The Police, Talking Heads, Visage, Ultravox, Peter Gabriel and reggae. Neil's broad outlook and the willingness of all band members to experiment with modern trends lead to the LP Signals in autumn of 1982. Although there are a few strong songs on it (such as Subdivisions with a fat synthesizer sound), the influence of ska (Digital Man), disco (The Weapon) and reggae (New World Man) is very large.

Still I decide to attend another Rush concert and even manage to take some friends from work. I had played them Rush recently and they immediately reacted enthusiastically. Now that was a very different reaction than I got from my prog friends at school five years ago. It's April 1984 and the new Rush album Grace Under Pressure is released. The music sounds like a logical continuation of the development of Signals: a mixture of the typical Rush power prog with various modern styles. Especially the clear-sounding electronics are thickly interwoven, giving Rush's sound a modern and swinging twist. It sounds like a nice Rush record, but I miss highlights, as no song really stands out for me.

Rush at Pinkpop, courtesy of Alex van Loon / cygnus-X1.net

Mid '85, the album Power Windows is released, and the sound is impressive. Still, some songs seem to be made on autopilot. Guitarist Alex Lifeson's drowns a bit in all the sound effects. But songs like Manhattan Project (about the atomic bomb), Marathon (about perseverance to realise dreams), and the compelling Mystic Rhythms (with African and Oriental rhythms and atmospheres) sound great, and have that specific Rush sound.

The next Rush product, Hold Your Fire (September 1987) also shows Rush with songs that seem to be made on autopilot, and songs that sound powerful and compelling (such as Force Ten, The Mission and Turn The Page). Despite the critical notes on the new albums, Rush's concerts remain an experience, especially when giant red balls are strewn over the audience at the end of the concert in Ahoy' and the exuberant fans enthusiastically slam them back up in the air.

The live album A Show Of Hands (early 1989) and the concert video of the same name also confirm Rush's class on stage: magnificent interplay between the three gentlemen (with a nice dose of humour), exciting solos, and a spectacular live show (lights, lasers and movies). Most striking is that you can clearly hear that Rush has been playing together in this line-up for 15 years. On stage, the guys from Rush are three busy bees. Besides the regular parts on bass, guitar and drums, everyone has to deal with operating equipment to involve other instruments such as keys or bass pedals in the massive sound. They also have a full backup installation, should the normal ones fail!

Rush at Pinkpop, courtesy of Alex van Loon / cygnus-X1.net

Rush is therefore accused of having become a "high-tec power prog orchestra". But the group sees this as a challenge, and the interaction with the audience remains warm and enthusiastic. After the album Hold Your Fire, Rush takes a long holiday, get reacquainted with their families and themselves, and to be away from the ever-rolling machine that Rush has become. All Rush band members are now married and have children. Geddy's wife's name is Nancy Young, they have a son (Julian) and a daughter (Kyla). Alex married his childhood friend Charlene, they have two sons (Justin and Adrian). And Neil married Jackie and has a daughter named Selena.

Rush Between 1989 And 2020

1989 sees the release of Presto. For me this is a huge disappointment. It's too much song-structures compositions and not enough adventure. I miss the surprise element and excitement from the 1976 - 1982 period. It all sounds very tightly produced, and everything is starting to sound alike. The following albums, Roll The Bones (1991), Counterparts (1993), Test For Echo (1996) and Vapor Trails (2002) are also not to my liking. But Rush did gain a new audience with these four albums. All four CDs reached the Album Top 10 in the US (Roll The Bones a 3rd, and Counterparts even a 2nd position), and then a platinum or gold status. Those are top numbers for a rock band. The change of course, from less complex to more accessible, and from longer songs to a song-like approach, has not been a problem for Rush. On the contrary!

Rush at Pinkpop, courtesy of Alex van Loon / cygnus-X1.net

I do enjoy the live 3CD Different Stages from 1998. (It contains the bonus recordings of Rush 1978 in London's Hammersmith Odeon.) Meanwhile, though, Neil Peart experiences an extreme form of personal tragedy: in 1997 his daughter Selena dies, at the age of 19, in an accident, and less than a year later his wife Jackie diee of cancer. That is just horrible! Neil decides to travel around North America with his motorcycle, trying not to go crazy with grief at home.

In 2004, Rush decide to go to Europe for the first time since 1992. Ooh, I would like to see that again. Because the band is celebrating their 30th anniversary, they have a well-balanced setlist, including surprising covers by The Who and The Yardbirds, among others. And let's not forget the exciting instrumental intro titled R30 Overture, consisiting of Finding My Way / Anthem / Bastille Day / A Passage To Bangkok / Cygnus X-1 / Cygnus X-1 Book II: Hemispheres Part I: Prelude! Pure goosebumps, so clever and sensational. The light show and animations are again top-notch, at the same level as Pink Floyd and Genesis.

2007 sees the first new Rush album in five years: Snakes And Arrows. My ears are feeling some of the magic and chemistry returning. Especially in the great instrumental Malignant Narcissism, which is so cleverly put together. We see this song in a spectacular version on the DVD Snakes And Arrows Live, recorded in... Ahoy' Rotterdam! I was there!

Rush at Pinkpop, courtesy of Alex van Loon / cygnus-X1.net

After that, I would see Rush with the Time Machine tour in 2011 ("Moving Pictures 30th Anniversary"), again in Ahoy'. I decide to skip the concert in 2013 in the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam, because the new album Clockwork Angels is a bit disappointing, and I'm not much of a fan of orchestras getting involved.

The ultimate appreciation for Rush happens in 2013, when they are finally inducted into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. Hereby they make fun of the leading American music magazine Rolling Stone, who had not taken Rush very seriously for a long time, and chronically slammed the band and their music, until they could no longer ignore the class and popularity of the trio and even started posting beautiful stories and interviews. Rush is "big money" for Rolling Stone!

It's Neil Peart's 40th anniversary as drummer with Rush in 2015. The R40 tour unfortunately only takes place in North America. On the double live DVD R40, we can hear that Geddy Lee has trouble singing cleanly and is lacking power. At times, it's just painful to experience this for this big fan of his. What's cool is that, for the first time in a long time, Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson are both playing their double-neck guitars in the monumental Xanadu.

Rush at Pinkpop, courtesy of Alex van Loon / cygnus-X1.net

Rush will never play live again, because on 7 January 2020, the sad news is announced that Neil Peart (now married to photographer Carrie Nuttall, together they have a daughter named Olivia) has died from the effects of a brain tumour. He had already been ill for several years and had withdrawn from music. Alex and Geddy decide to stop with Rush, because Rush is unthinkable without Neil Peart. A fitting tribute to a highly valued colleague, as a musician, writer and person. Within the music world there is a lot of appreciation for Neil Peart, as an innovative, creative and influential drummer. He has received a slew of awards for his drumming style, from Most Promising Drummer in 1980 to countless Best Rock Drummer / Drummer Of The Year awards, and is in the Drummers Top Three of All Time according to many leading magazines and polls. He built it all the way from the bottom up, with a mix of commitment, talent, creativity, discipline, and intelligence. And that's basically the story of the whole band Rush as well. Kudos and respect to these guys.

Neil Peart, Rest In Peace

Photo by Weatherman90, licensed under CC BY 3.0, uploaded at e.wikipedia


Pinkpop 1979 photos used by kind permission of Alex van Loon. First published here on the excellent Rush source, Cygnus X1.