Rolling Stone has published a lengthy new article in which RUSH drummer Neil Peart's bandmates and widow discuss his legacy and his final years for the first time since his passing.
Guitarist Alex Lifeson and bassist/vocalist Geddy Lee both said that they haven't been motivated to pick up their instruments in recent months. "I love playing, and I never, ever wanted to stop," Lifeson said. "And I thought, you know, 'One day, when I'm just sitting around shitting my pants, I'll still want to play guitar.' And that's kind of gone now. After he died, it just didn't seem important. But I think it'll come back."
"For the longest time," Lee said, "I didn't have any heart to play. … I still feel there's music in me and there's music in Big Al, but there's no hurry to do any of that."
Lee went on to say that RUSH is no longer a functioning band.
"That's finished, right? That's over," he said. "I still am very proud of what we did. I don't know what I will do again in music. And I'm sure Al doesn't, whether it's together, apart, or whatever. But the music of RUSH is always part of us. And I would never hesitate to play one of those songs in the right context. But at the same time, you have to give respect to what the three of us with Neil did together."
Peart died on January 7, 2020, nearly three and a half years after he was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer with an average survival time of roughly 12 to 18 months. He was 67 years old.
Lifeson admitted that it was difficult to keep Peart's cancer battle a secret when talking to friends or doing interviews. "Neil asked us not to discuss it with anyone," the guitarist said. "He just wanted to be in control of it. The last thing in the world he would want is people sitting on his sidewalk or driveway singing 'Closer To The Heart' or something. That was a great fear of his. He didn't want that attention at all. And it was definitely difficult to lie to people or to sidestep or deflect somehow. It was really difficult."
RUSH announced Peart's passing on January 10, 2020, setting off shockwaves and an outpouring of grief from fans and musicians all over the world.
RUSH's final show took place at the Forum in Los Angeles on August 1, 2015 — approximately a year before Neil's cancer diagnosis. Peart indicated at the time that he wanted to retire while he was still able to play well, along with a desire to spend more time at home with his young daughter.
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.