SKF: RIP Neil Peart, Traveling Invisible Highways

Scott K Fish

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SKF NOTE: This newspaper column first appeared in full online at the Piscataquis Observer website. I posted the column in part, with a link to the Observer page, on my blog. Now that the Observer has rolled the column offline, I've added the full column to my blog.

Piscataquis Observer #157
January 17, 2020
by Scott K Fish

Word Count: 684

Suggested Title: RIP Neil Peart, Traveling Invisible Highways

The news came through first at 7:12 pm; a voice message from friend Chip Stern, driving his taxi in Brooklyn, NY. But I hadn't checked my phone.

At 9:30 pm Eileen received a text message from her daughter, Leanne: "Tell Scott I'm sorry to hear about Neil Peart."

"What happened to Neil?" Eileen asked.

"I don't know," I said.

Using my iPhone I found the news headline.

"Neil died," I told Eileen.

Neil Peart and I first met in 1982. He was a famous drummer and lyricist with the rock band Rush. I was Managing Editor of the world's most popular magazine for drummers, Modern Drummer (MD).

I liked Neil as a person, a human being. Had we met first in a diner, striking up conversation knowing nothing about each other, we would still have clicked. We remained friends much less because of what we did for a living, and much more because of our common interests in drumming, writing, politics, and life's run-of-the-mill moments.

In 1982 Neil asked if MD was interested in coordinating a "Neil Peart Drum Giveaway" contest. I worked with Neil on the contest. Neil's Tama Superstar drumset was beautiful and well-known. Neil gave away those 15 drums, seven cymbals, hardware, and drum cases delivered to the contest winner.

I was impressed Neil chose an essay contest. Contestants had to print or type 100 words or less on "Why I Would Like to Win Neil Peart's Drums."

The winner was announced through Neil's "Dear Readers" letter, which began:

"Whose idea was this, anyway? Why didn't somebody tell me how long it takes to read 4,625 letters [and choose] one winner?

"There were letters from every corner of the U.S., Alaska and Hawaii, every province of Canada, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Sweden, Norway, Finland, France, Germany, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and even a girl in Borneo!"

I interviewed Neil several times for MD cover stories and MD's 10th Anniversary issue.

Starting in the mid-1980s my life twisted 180-degrees. I was no longer part of the drumming world as writer or performer. I moved to Connecticut, then Maine. It was sometimes years between letters, but Neil and I kept in touch.

He was so methodical. When obsessed about something -- "hopefully in less than a psychological disturbing way," Neil told one interviewer -- he went all in. Touring with Rush was time spent mostly traveling and waiting to perform. Neil's filled his time reading -- a voracious reader and student of classic and contemporary writers.

Neil started riding his bicycle show to show, filling pocket notebooks along the way with ideas, observations; discovering enthusiasm and talent for travel writing.

The bike became a red BMW touring motorcycle. Neil published six travel journals. "Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road" is his most popular. It's about an awful time in Neil's life, a time when we were not in touch. Within one year, Neil's 19-year old daughter, Selena, was killed in a car crash; his wife, Jackie, died from cancer.

I first heard about Selena and Jackie three years after the fact. Stunned, among all my emotions I felt regret over not reaching out to Neil at the time. If he still thought of me at all, he must think very poorly of a so-called friend who was MIA during this unimaginable time.

I spent years trying to reconnect with an on-the-move Neil. No one, not even Modern Drummer, could help me get a letter to Neil. Finally, in year 2014, a woman at Rush's management office helped me. Soon I had an email from Neil himself. That was a happy day.

My last note to Neil, unanswered, was August 18, 2018: "You've been on my mind recently. No special reason. Hope you and your family are enjoying life. All's well here."

January 10 I learned Neil was struggling in 2018 with the brain cancer that took his life.

Prayers for Neil's daughter and wife. And prayers for Neil who, I'm sure, is taking notes traveling invisible highways.

SKF Blog - Life Beyond the Cymbals - https://scottkfish.com/2020/01/17/rip-neil-peart-traveling-invisible-highways/
 

bigbonzo

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SKF NOTE: This newspaper column first appeared in full online at the Piscataquis Observer website. I posted the column in part, with a link to the Observer page, on my blog. Now that the Observer has rolled the column offline, I've added the full column to my blog.

Piscataquis Observer #157
January 17, 2020
by Scott K Fish

Word Count: 684

Suggested Title: RIP Neil Peart, Traveling Invisible Highways

The news came through first at 7:12 pm; a voice message from friend Chip Stern, driving his taxi in Brooklyn, NY. But I hadn't checked my phone.

At 9:30 pm Eileen received a text message from her daughter, Leanne: "Tell Scott I'm sorry to hear about Neil Peart."

"What happened to Neil?" Eileen asked.

"I don't know," I said.

Using my iPhone I found the news headline.

"Neil died," I told Eileen.

Neil Peart and I first met in 1982. He was a famous drummer and lyricist with the rock band Rush. I was Managing Editor of the world's most popular magazine for drummers, Modern Drummer (MD).

I liked Neil as a person, a human being. Had we met first in a diner, striking up conversation knowing nothing about each other, we would still have clicked. We remained friends much less because of what we did for a living, and much more because of our common interests in drumming, writing, politics, and life's run-of-the-mill moments.

In 1982 Neil asked if MD was interested in coordinating a "Neil Peart Drum Giveaway" contest. I worked with Neil on the contest. Neil's Tama Superstar drumset was beautiful and well-known. Neil gave away those 15 drums, seven cymbals, hardware, and drum cases delivered to the contest winner.

I was impressed Neil chose an essay contest. Contestants had to print or type 100 words or less on "Why I Would Like to Win Neil Peart's Drums."

The winner was announced through Neil's "Dear Readers" letter, which began:

"Whose idea was this, anyway? Why didn't somebody tell me how long it takes to read 4,625 letters [and choose] one winner?

"There were letters from every corner of the U.S., Alaska and Hawaii, every province of Canada, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Sweden, Norway, Finland, France, Germany, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and even a girl in Borneo!"

I interviewed Neil several times for MD cover stories and MD's 10th Anniversary issue.

Starting in the mid-1980s my life twisted 180-degrees. I was no longer part of the drumming world as writer or performer. I moved to Connecticut, then Maine. It was sometimes years between letters, but Neil and I kept in touch.

He was so methodical. When obsessed about something -- "hopefully in less than a psychological disturbing way," Neil told one interviewer -- he went all in. Touring with Rush was time spent mostly traveling and waiting to perform. Neil's filled his time reading -- a voracious reader and student of classic and contemporary writers.

Neil started riding his bicycle show to show, filling pocket notebooks along the way with ideas, observations; discovering enthusiasm and talent for travel writing.

The bike became a red BMW touring motorcycle. Neil published six travel journals. "Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road" is his most popular. It's about an awful time in Neil's life, a time when we were not in touch. Within one year, Neil's 19-year old daughter, Selena, was killed in a car crash; his wife, Jackie, died from cancer.

I first heard about Selena and Jackie three years after the fact. Stunned, among all my emotions I felt regret over not reaching out to Neil at the time. If he still thought of me at all, he must think very poorly of a so-called friend who was MIA during this unimaginable time.

I spent years trying to reconnect with an on-the-move Neil. No one, not even Modern Drummer, could help me get a letter to Neil. Finally, in year 2014, a woman at Rush's management office helped me. Soon I had an email from Neil himself. That was a happy day.

My last note to Neil, unanswered, was August 18, 2018: "You've been on my mind recently. No special reason. Hope you and your family are enjoying life. All's well here."

January 10 I learned Neil was struggling in 2018 with the brain cancer that took his life.

Prayers for Neil's daughter and wife. And prayers for Neil who, I'm sure, is taking notes traveling invisible highways.

SKF Blog - Life Beyond the Cymbals - https://scottkfish.com/2020/01/17/rip-neil-peart-traveling-invisible-highways/
Sorry Scott...didn't mean to put a damper on your thread.
 

utdrummer

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I remember seeing his picture on FB before I read the terrible, unthinkable news that day. I initially thought to myself "whats Neil up to nowadays?" Then I read the headline. Stunned. I just sat here in disbelief. My wife walked in the door about that time and said "isn't that Rush's drummer?" I replied "it is. He died". I could not hold back any longer. Cried like I lost a dear friend in front of her. A horrible way to start what would be a nightmare of a year.
 

mfryed2112

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Still amazing to me that word never got out until it was over. I’m pretty much a daily listener. While neil is my favorite drummer, I gave up on being a fan boy a long time ago. something geddy said actually made me realize they’re just normal guys who have really cool jobs.
 

bigbonzo

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Still amazing to me that word never got out until it was over. I’m pretty much a daily listener. While neil is my favorite drummer, I gave up on being a fan boy a long time ago. something geddy said actually made me realize they’re just normal guys who have really cool jobs.
No one knew except Neil's family and closest friends until about 3 days after he died.
 

langmick

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We all have these realities to face, this year has been trying, these words are prescient. I wonder if he knew when he was writing this....

In this one of many possible worlds, all for the best, or some bizarre test?
It is what it is – and whatever, time is still the infinite jest


 

thin shell

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He found out right at a year after their final show. His last entry on neilpeart.net was May 2016. Based on Geddy's annoucement of the length of his battle it would have put the diagnosis at June of 2016. Chris at Sabian said that Neil had just about one good year of retirement. All of those point to him finding out sometime in June or July 2016.
 
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thin shell

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We all have these realities to face, this year has been trying, these words are prescient. I wonder if he knew when he was writing this....

In this one of many possible worlds, all for the best, or some bizarre test?
It is what it is – and whatever, time is still the infinite jest


Clockwork Angels was released in 2012 but recorded in October - December 2011 so The Garden was written in 2011 or 2010. Glioblastoma usually has no symptoms until it is too late. From there people usually last about a year to a year and a half after the initial surgery and treatment. So there is no way he knew when he wrote The Garden.
 

highmileage

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No one knew except Neil's family and closest friends until about 3 days after he died.
It was such a shock to me - like everyone - but Neil didn't want everyone to know. So, it's great that word didn't get out and he could live his remaining time with those details private as he chose. January 10th is my anniversary. We didn't go out because I was just getting over a really nasty cold and my wife had it (was it...?). I was surfing YouTube, saw a "Neil Peart 1952-2020" video and couldn't fathom what it meant. Then I did. Quite an incredible guy, and we're lucky to have 'known' him.
 

GregR

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I grew up with Rush. My band in high school was covering Working Man when the first album came out. I was at the ATWAS show at Massey Hall and saw them probably 30 times over the years. Neil was my favourite drummer. I remember always being in awe of his drumset at the concerts I attended. That is his Hemispheres bass head in my photo. I still haven't got over his death.
 


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