Neil Peart, the iconic drummer and lyricist of the band Rush, passed away on January 7, 2020, in Santa Monica, California. He was 67.
Largely regarded as one of rock music’s greatest drummers of all time, according to Elliot Mintz, a family spokesperson, Peart died from brain cancer, which he had been battling in private for nearly four years. His former Rush bandmates, singer and bassist Geddy Lee and guitarist Alex Lifeson, also released a shared statement on Friday.
From the band’s official account they tweeted:
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 mater of over 45 years, Neil, has lost his incredible three and a half year battle with brain cancer (Glioblastoma). We ask that friends, fans, and media alike understandably respect the family’s need for privacy and peace at this extremely painful and difficult time. Those wishing to express their condolences can choose a cancer research group or charity of their choice and make a donation in Neil’s name.
What Is Glioblastoma?
According to the Mayo Clinic, glioblastoma is an aggressive type of cancer that can occur in the brain or spinal cord. Also known as glioblastoma multiforme, or GBM, it’s an incredibly difficult cancer type to treat. Only 15 percent of brain cancer turns out to be glioblastomas. And while this form of cancer can occur at any age, it’s most popular in older adults and slightly more common in men than women.
After being diagnosed through a biopsy or imaging tests, treatments to remove glioblastoma include surgery to remove as much as the tumor as possible. However, since this kind of cancer grows into the brain tissue, it’s not possible to remove all of it. Therefore, additional treatment such as radiation, targeted drug therapy and/or chemotherapy are also needed.
The American Brain Tumor Association says on their website that glioblastomas are generally found in the cerebral hemispheres of the brain but can be found anywhere in the brain. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting and severe headaches. Neurological issues can arise depending on the location and size of the tumor found in the brain.
Peart’s First Wife Died Of Cancer 10 Months After His Eldest Daughter Died In a Car Crash
The Canadian-born drummer was with his common-law wife, Jacqueline Taylor, for 23 years. Together, they had one child, Selena Taylor, who tragically died in a car accident when she was only 19 years old. A mere 10 months later, Jacqueline, who had been diagnosed with cancer, succumbed to the disease in 1998.
Peart later remarried to photographer Carrie Nuttal in 2000. He is survived by his wife and their daughter, Olivia Louise Peart, who was born in 2009.
Prior to his death, Peart joked to Drumhead magazine about his daughter introducing him to friends as a “retired drummer,” as he had announced in 2015 that he was hanging up his drumsticks for good due to psoriatic arthritis and chronic tendonitis.
He said of retirement, “It does not pain me to realize that, like all athletes, there comes a time to… take yourself out of the game.”
Tributes To The Legendary Classic Rock Drummer Flooded Twitter
As the news of Peart’s death spread online, heartfelt tributes to the beloved drummer filled Twitter’s timeline. However, accolades to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee have been pouring in for years.
In 2015, Police drummer Stewart Copeland told Rolling Stone, “Neil is the most air-drummed-to drummer of all time. Neil pushes that band, which has a lot of musicality, a lot of ideas crammed into every eight bars — but he keeps the throb, which is the important thing. And he can do that while doing all kinds of cool s***.”