It’s been a little more than a year since the music world lost legendary Rush drummer Neil Peart. In a new interview, his bandmate of more than 40 years, singer-bassist Geddy Lee, remembers Peart as a “monster drummer of the highest magnitude.”
Peart passed away at the age of 67 on January 7th, 2020, after a private battle with brain cancer. He left behind a legacy that ranks him as one of the greatest rock drummers of all time, and in many eyes, the absolute greatest.
Reflecting on Peart a year after the drummer’s passing, Lee opened up to Rolling Stone about his longtime bandmate in an extensive interview. When asked whether he was in awe of Peart’s talents despite his own virtuoso skills as a bassist, Lee responded, “With regularity. I’ve never met a musician like him. He was a monster drummer of the highest magnitude. I’ve met some great musicians but I had the pleasure to watch him every night onstage and watch him improvise, as he got older, through his solos.”
Lee added, “When he became determined to add improvisation as part of his drum solo every night, that’s a bold, brave step for him and the level of complexity that he functioned at. I don’t know many other musicians that can function at that level. So for me, I was always trying to live up to his watermark, so to speak, because he pushed me. He would say the same thing about me, but of course, I always thought, ‘No, no, I’m following you.'”
The Rush frontman continued, “[Peart] set the bar really high for himself, and as his body started to let him down he worried that he would betray that. He was really big on that. He used to say all the time that he never wanted to let down the kid in him.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Lee spoke of Peart’s health issues, even when the band was still touring. “He struggled through [the 40th anniversary] tour. He had lot of weird issues, physical issues, a tendency to get infections. He was so f**king stoic. … You’d see him limping or something and you’d go, ‘Man, what’s going on?’ … But you had to guess if he even had a cold, because he didn’t grumble about that kind of stuff. He was the exact opposite of me. When I have something wrong, everyone in the f**king organization knows I have something wrong.”
Lee also reiterated that Rush have released just about all of their archived material, and that there’s really not much else to cull from. “There’s nothing there. There’s nothing left. There might be half-finished demos somewhere where we got halfway through and went, ‘Oh, this song sucks.’ And it never got made. … Some of those things may not even be in a stage that there’s drums on them.”
For more from the extensive interview with Geddy Lee, visit Rolling Stone, and see our own list of 10 Moments That Show the Awesomeness of Neil Peart.