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The Day Neil Peart Joined Rush

On July 29, 1974, legendary drummer Neil Peart officially joined "Rush".

(Photo: Fin Costello)

Neil was born in Hagersville, Ontario Canada, southwest of downtown Toronto and the Willowdale neighborhood. He was the eldest of four brothers.

He began to take an interest in music through a radio transistor that was tuned to regional stations in Toronto and Buffalo USA. At first, he began to study piano but that was not it.

Neil's interest in drums came from his uncle Richard who was in a band that played R&B. He would play on his knees, with chopsticks all over the house. He was so drawn to it that he would scatter drummer's magazines on the bed and drum on them.


His parents saw Neil's longing for drums and bought him a small, basic drum set for his 13th birthday. They also sent him to learn to play with the promise that if he persisted for a whole year they would buy him a professional drum set. Neil persevered and got it of course.

His parents saw how talented Neil was and sent him to study music at the "Peninsula College of Music in British Columbia".

Neil's first live show was at the age of 14 at the school where he studied.

Neil of course was not content with that and would continue to practice at home for hours listening to the great drummers he admired and trying to emulate them. He financed his studies with occasional jobs.

As a teenager he moved between various local bands, including "Mumblin' Sumpthin", "the Majority", and "JR Flood", but none of them managed to break through and become famous.

At the age of 18, Neil boarded a plane and made his way to London following his childhood heroes in music. He hopes to succeed there musically. In London, he was exposed, among other things, to the writings of Ayn Rand, whose philosophy greatly influenced him.

After 18 months without success, he returns to Canada and starts working with his dad in the family business, selling spare parts for tractors. At the same time, he joins a local band called "Hush".

At the time, John Rutsey, Rush's original drummer, left the band with the excuse that he could not keep up with the pace of the band having diabetes.

Geddy and Alex auditioned Neil - a skinny guy with shorts and a short haircut. They remembered he got out of a "Ford Pinto" and took out a tiny drum set from boxes in which they were stored and assembled it slowly and comfortably. Alex remembered Neil did not make a good impression on him at first and he thought he did not fit the band's rock style.

But as Neil began to play, the jaws of the two musical friends opened wide, they heard in his drumming the strengths and virtuosity of Keith Moon and John Bonham. He played insanely and perfectly and of course, they immediately got him into the band.

(Photo: Classic Rock In Pics Twitter)

The exact date Peart joined the band was 29/7/1974. It was Geddy Lee's 21st birthday. Neil Peart was also 21 at the time.

Neil had exactly two weeks before the band's tour in the US and he had to quickly learn all the material and get ready for the pre-planned tour.

Peart's first appearance with the band was in Pittsburgh on August 14, 1974. It was a warm-up performance for Manfred Mann and Uriah Heep in front of 11,000 people.

The rest is already history ...

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