Carmine Appice paid tribute to Neil Peart at last night's (Wednesday, January 15) Metal Hall Of Fame event at the Marriott Delta Garden Grove in Anaheim, California. The legendary RUSH drummer died on January 7 in Santa Monica, California after a three-year battle with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. He was 67 years old.
After a tribute to Peart by Modern Drummer's Billy Amendola, Appice took the stage to say (see video below): "I met Neil a few times. I wasn't a close friend. But the times I did hang with him, he was really the nicest guy — one of the most polite, really genuine kind of people. And he was always nice to everyone that I've seen around him when I hung out with him… I was around 10 years before Neil, so I wasn't [sitting around and saying], 'I wanna learn these RUSH songs, practice RUSH songs.' But Neil told me that he listened to some of the stuff I did that was an influence on him. And that really hit home with me, because when I heard that 'Tom Sawyer' track, I said, 'Man, that is some great playing.' … So I really had a lot of respect for him just on that one track. And his history is ridiculous. So, God bless Neil. Rest in peace."
When Peart's death was first announced, Carmine took to his social media to write: "I am shocked and sorry at the news about Neil Peart gone at such a young age. My sympathies and prayers go out to his family and close friends and other members of RUSH . He was a great drummer . He influenced legions drummers. Very Sad. Neil was always a nice guy to hang the times we did hang together. God Bless him hope RIP friend"
Carmine, who has toured with Ozzy Osbourne, Rod Stewart, VANILLA FUDGE and Jeff Beck, told Drum magazine in 2011 that some of his key innovations came from the constraints of playing live rock music during his formative years. "All the stuff we all did — the stuff that I am [credited with] starting was just stuff that I did out of necessity," he said. "I pioneered the use of big drum sets and played with the butt end of the sticks early on. I did that because there were no P.A. systems."
Peart joined RUSH in 1974. He was considered one of the best rock drummers of all time, alongside John Bonham of LED ZEPPELIN; Keith Moon of THE WHO; and Ginger Baker of CREAM. Peart was also RUSH's primary lyricist, drawing inspiration from everything from sci-fi to Ayn Rand.