IRON MAIDEN drummer Nicko McBrain has paid tribute to Neil Peart, calling the RUSH drummer "a true diplomat for the instrument, a wonderful human being, and a phenomenal player."
McBrain made his comments to Eonmusic at last weekend's NAMM convention in Anaheim, California. Recalling his sole encounter with the iconic Canadian musician, Nicko said: "I only met Neil once, at a show way way back in the late '80s. We were playing in the same city — I think it was in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, somewhere like that. They were doing a show, and we went to their show, got to meet them, and I got to sit and talk with Neil."
He continued: "[He was] a wonderful, articulated man. He was quiet, he was very reserved, but when you sat down with him, my impression of him was of a very articulated, very educated kind, and I liked him very much. And I loved his playing."
McBrain said that he learned about Peart's passing through social media. "Friends were phoning me: 'Oh my god, have you heard the news?'" he said. "My immediate thought was for his family and [bandmates] Geddy [Lee] and Alex [Lifeson]. I thought, 'Oh gosh, how must they all be feeling?', because they were really his family. Not to take away from his wife and his kids."
Nicko went on to talk about Peart's legacy, saying: "I've influenced players, but I think Neil reached a lot more youngsters than perhaps myself because of the way he played."
"Yeah, the drumming community has lost a true diplomat for the instrument, and a wonderful human being, and an absolutely phenomenal player," he added. "He'll be sorely missed."
Peart died on January 7 at the age of 67 from an aggressive form of brain cancer that he battled for more than three years. The news of his passing set off shockwaves and an outpouring of grief from fans and musicians all over the world.