The Drummer, the Private Eye, and Me (Rush Fans Take Note)

Tell Us About Your Rides!

Postby JimVonBaden » Fri Aug 17, 2007 10:38 pm

Rick F. wrote:Kitty,

I like your idea!


But we have to do better than that title...

Rick F.

Ride Stories Master!!!!!


Jim 8)
User avatar
Smooth Motorcycle Operator
Posts: 17669
Joined: Tue Oct 28, 2003 11:48 pm
Location: Alexandria, VA

Postby Chiba » Tue Aug 28, 2007 8:21 am

Rush's Legendary Drummer is Revered By Fellow Musicians
Source: Detroit Free Press
Publication date: 2007-08-28

He's known as the Professor.

But that's not all they call Neil Peart. Stick the phrase "Neil Peart is..." in Google, step back and watch the accolades fly. As far as the Web is concerned, the Rush drummer is unreal, the greatest, a legend, the man. He is, some breathlessly proclaim, a rock god.

At his concerts, they stare and study, their arms busy in the air, miming his every move across his colossal kit. He doesn't stare back: Focused, intense, deeply invested, Peart is all business as he steers Rush through its marathon live show.

The enduring phenomenon of Neil Peart is one of rock music's rarely highlighted realities. In a rock world where musical prowess is often discounted, where his peers are often stereotyped with an amiable joke ("What do you call a drummer without a girlfriend?" "Homeless"), Peart is a rare sort indeed: a drummer beloved foremost for his virtuoso chops _ and a personal image directly opposed to rock flash.

On the Canadian band's latest concert tour, the 54-year-old drummer, lyricist and author is in his familiar spot behind bassist Geddy Lee and guitarist Alex Lifeson, once again the magnetic focus for many in the Rush audience.

If you want to start an argument, walk into a room full of rock fans and declare that so-and-so is the best whatever. But the conventional wisdom on Peart _ that he is one of rock history's very best _ is about as close to consensus as it gets. It's a reputation built on a lengthy, rarely flagging career, even as Rush has flown under the mainstream radar since Peart joined in 1974.

The stoic Peart is a drummer's drummer, a player whose high-end work has made him a legend among fellow musicians. He dominated Modern Drummer magazine's annual best-of polls so comprehensively during the 1980s that the publication eventually took him off the ballot and placed him on a special honor roll.

"He perhaps doesn't loom as large in the overall music world, or even in rock," says senior editor Rick Van Horn. "But within the drumming community, his stature is beyond iconic. No one has had this much impact for so long. He's influenced so many people and remained at the pinnacle of popularity for 30 years."

But even for casual listeners who wouldn't know a paradiddle from a pedal, Peart's skills are easy to discern. Muscular but fluid, geometric but colorful, his drumming can be akin to aural fireworks, and remains the perennial attraction even on such well-worn staples as the hit "Tom Sawyer."

Peart fan Bill Plegue of Chesterfield Township, Mich., recounts the night in 2004 that his wife attended her first Rush show.

"She's a classically trained piano player. She sings Broadway songs. Billy Joel is what she would consider rock `n' roll," says Plegue, 50. "And she walked out of there amazed _ `That guy plays so fast, I can't keep up with the beats in my head. How does someone do that?' Whether you like Rush or not, the musicianship alone is worth the price of a ticket."

Charlie Grover, former drummer for the Detroit band Sponge, is now with the Paper Street Saints.

"He's a human metronome, just rock solid. I think he kind of looks at it mathematically, and that's the thing about his playing _ it's so precise," says Grover. "He's not a 4/4 cat. He's the guy whose playing is studied. Neil Peart is the true innovator, the one who pushed drumming to the forefront."

There are faster drummers. More intricate drummers. More powerful drummers.

But there is perhaps no other rock player who brings all three qualities to the kit in such abundance _ and who has reaped such prestige for it.

On the Internet, long a prime gathering spot for Rush's self-professed geek audience, extensive fan tributes sit alongside heady discussions of Peart's lyrics. The video site YouTube teems with homemade homages, amateur drummers filming themselves playing Peart's challenging parts.

Still, you don't hear a lot about Peart outside musicians' circles and Rush audiences. Instrumental chops aren't always the most valued asset in rock, where style and attitude are often the coin of the realm. It's the reason Keith Richards, no virtuoso player, can be heralded as one of rock's guitar greats. Indeed, technical skill can be a rock `n' roll liability, as evidenced by the long critical disdain for progressive rock. In a sense, the entire punk genre sprung up to scorn the concept of trying too hard.

Top it off with the fact that Rush just might be the biggest rock band that's never been treated like a big rock band: no Rolling Stone covers, no Grammy Awards, no paparazzi chases. The group's mainstream profile has been so low-key, in fact, that Peart's name is commonly mispronounced, even by avid fans. (It's peert, not purt.)

"There's a bit of a club aspect to it, like a secret society," says fan Bobby Standridge of Springfield, Va. "It's one of those things where it's people in the know who derive the greatest pleasures from this band."

Standridge has analyzed Peart as much as anyone: He logged nearly 18 months creating a digitally animated film featuring Peart performing the Rush chestnut "YYZ." It became an Internet sensation in rock circles, ultimately tallying more than 1 million views after its 2005 release. The attention propelled him into a career as a full-time animator, working for ESPN, among others.

With its meticulous scrutiny of his moves at the kit, the clip _ which can be viewed at _ symbolizes the Rush drummer's distinct following: When you're into Peart, you're really into Peart. On recent Rush DVDs, viewers are offered the option of viewing footage from multiple angles trained solely on the drummer.

"What I like about Neil's playing, and the way he approaches life, is that he's very deliberate. When he constructs his parts, he'll have a pattern he alludes to and shadows throughout a piece," says Standridge, 40. "He's not busy for busyness' sake. He always seems to play what's appropriate to the song, but within that it's fresh and innovative. And he always has total control of what he's doing."

Peart has his critics, and their complaints are easy to spot amid the dizzying, knotty discussions that fill certain corners of the Web: His technique is showy, indulgent, too cleanly precise for rock `n' roll. Jazz-savvy listeners say he's overrated at the expense of technically superior players. Much of the criticism is directed at the lyrics he writes for vocalist Geddy Lee, which some read more as highbrow prose than rock poetry.

During the late `70s, Peart's expressed affection for political philosopher and novelist Ayn Rand _ culminating in the "Anthem"-inspired album "2112" _ prompted sniping from rock's left-leaning establishment.

Over time, though, the vitriol has tailed off, much as it has for Rush itself. If only through attrition, the kudos have crowded out the criticism, as new generations of rock fans and critics have grown up with the band. Today, the threesome's status as elder rock statesmen has granted them a kind of collegial respect not always apparent in the past.

Peart, a mysterious personality even in Rush fan circles, became a sympathetic figure in the late `90s when he was struck by a pair of personal tragedies. The deaths of his wife and a daughter, just 10 months apart, became the stepping stone for his well-reviewed 2002 memoir, "Ghost Rider," which chronicled his therapeutic motorcycle journey across North America.

For fans, it was a familiar picture of intense self-determination _ one they'd come to know well from Peart's lyrics.

"The lyrics have been such a big influence on how I look at the world," says Standridge.

"What I take from them is that it's your life, it's in your hands, you make of it what you want ... So much of rock ` n' roll is about whining and complaining. Those lyrics say get up and do something about it."

But it's still that drumming _ the sublime skills, the exacting standards, the cool bravado _ where the personal inspiration starts.

Dream Theater's Mike Portnoy, the drummer most commonly pitted against Peart in fan debates about today's best player, says his style has diverged since his teen years as a Rush fanatic. But he knows where credit belongs.

"He was my first real drum hero," says Portnoy, 40. "Neil as a drummer, and Rush as a band, were the blueprints for this band's foundation. Without him I wouldn't be playing the way I play today. There's no doubt about that."

(c) 2007, Detroit Free Press.
User avatar
Posts: 6464
Joined: Sat May 06, 2006 8:01 pm
Location: Mechanicsville VA

Postby BchrisL » Wed Aug 29, 2007 1:57 pm

South Park guys introduce Tom Sawyer, guess who is playing the drums. :D

Postby DUKR » Wed Aug 29, 2007 3:15 pm

BchrisL wrote:South Park guys introduce Tom Sawyer, guess who is playing the drums. :D

:lol: This was a big hit during the concert.. Gotta love South Park up on the big screens with Neil driving the beat!!!

Postby Rick F. » Wed Aug 29, 2007 7:28 pm

I liked the South Park introduction to Tom Sawyer because they used the lines from Huckleberry Finn, instead, and "suddenly realized" that they were the wrong words. Good sense of humor.

BTW, thanks much, Chiba, for the article. The article also included a link to an animated drumming sequence that was nothing short of phenomenal--almost as good as the real thing!

BTWBTW, the number of hits on this thread is gradually closing in on the 40,000 mark. Who'da thunk?

Rick F.

PS--The BMW ON is going to publish the story as an article, although I don't yet know what issue it will be in.
For all my tour articles, check out

2020 Mercedes-Benz SL550
2013 BMW 335i convertible (sold)
2007 Aston Martin V8 Vantage (sold)
2006 BMW Z4 3.0i roadster (sold)
2005 BMW R1200GS (retired)
2003 BMW F650CS (sold)
User avatar
Rick F.
Board Wizard
Posts: 1734
Joined: Sun Jul 31, 2005 5:43 pm
Location: Catonsville, MD

40k. . . .

Postby Geddy » Fri Aug 31, 2007 12:48 am

40,000 mark... wow. Thanks for a great ride along Rick. I probably
added a few of those last week when I made this addition to the
Red Barchetta entry in Wikipedia.

As an aside, the writer of "A Nice Morning Drive", Richard Foster, recently had a chance to share his passion for motorcycle riding with Rush drummer/lyricist/author Neil Peart. Details of this experience were posted on the message board @ BMWBMW (BMW Bikers of Metropolitan Washington) under the title of "The Drummer, the Private Eye, and Me (Rush Fans Take Note)"

I first linked up to this story/site thru I currently ride a
Concours and 'The Ol Red Bull', an '83 CB11F. As much as I luv them
both for what they are and have been, I plan to morph them into a GS
by next summer.

BTW, my nick, Geddy, is not because I'm a Rush fan. I got it when I
lived overseas and that's how the Japanese pronounced my name.

Postby Belg » Mon Sep 17, 2007 2:59 am

What a great ride report! Managed to suck me back from advrider for a night anyhow :)

I was sorta hoping his and my paths would have crossed in southern Utah this summer, when Iw as riding all over the country. In a strange way, they did... I passed that bus :=) Didn't recognize it for what it was, but thought highly of the idea/configuration for a toy hauler + horse trailer (long story). Never knew NP might or might not have been inside.

I'm very, very, incredibly jealous. I grew up listening to Rush, saw them for my first ever concert, see them every tour, and have always wanted to meet the guys, shake their hands, and thank em for what they do. And of course, do exactly what you did... Ride with 'em :)

Congratulations, and thank you very much for sharing :=)

Postby wiredcur » Mon Sep 17, 2007 6:41 am

Belg wrote:What a great ride report! Managed to suck me back from advrider for a night anyhow :) ...

Welcome back Mark, if only for a day. Glad to hear you're still around. :D
'04 BMW R1150GS - RatGS

"I lift things up and I put them down."
User avatar
The Fluffernutter Kid
Posts: 3790
Joined: Sat Apr 24, 2004 6:39 pm
Location: N39.211501° ± 1.50° W76.818135° ± 1.50°

Postby Belg » Mon Sep 17, 2007 5:19 pm

You know, as busy as I've been the past month since I've been back, I'm really, really surprised I am, in the ethereal sense of "still around".

I've been busy swimming in learning web-based business development after posting all my shots from my x-country meanderings over the summer. Haven't even gotten a ride report -started- yet. When I'm not doing that, I'm up in WV running around with my GF... in fact, could use that gps route myself for ideas :) The only "problem" is she's into photography too... so we generate more ideas and material than I have time to pursue/process/post :)

Shoehorn the above into 64 hour workweeks at my day job :)

Glad to hear things carry on whilest I dig myself deeper! Best,


Postby jck22903 » Thu Oct 18, 2007 9:33 am

C'mon, Mark, get that ride report written up. :ear

Was wondering where you'd been.

Postby jbfields3 » Thu Oct 18, 2007 3:04 pm

What a pleasant surprise. Thanks for such a great recounting, Rick.

Seriously, any rider who has NOT read Ghost Rider needs to find a copy and ride with it until the reading is done. It is a diservice to yourself if you're missing the pleasure of that book.

Postby DUKR » Fri Dec 14, 2007 9:44 am


Just an FYI - RUSH has decided to extend the Snakes & Arrows tour into 2008!!

The official tour dates and cities haven't been published yet, but Washington has been noted as being on the list again.. \:D/ :banana:

Maybe you'll have another ride report for us, Rick!! :lol:

Great Stories!!

Postby bread » Fri Dec 14, 2007 2:09 pm


amazing stories.

Kudos to Rick F. for great stories!! "A Nice Morning Drive" was really good, and short too! (fits well with my stupid ADD attention span)
Your July ride report was most excellent too.

Thanks for bumping the thread, or I might have missed this gem!

[note to self: add Rush albums and "Ghost Rider" to Christmas list]

Postby Inthpkt » Fri Dec 14, 2007 4:09 pm


Postby repo » Tue Jan 15, 2008 10:19 am



Return to Ride Stories

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests