Get the idea of John Bonham as the ultimate rock drummer out of your head. The iconic Led Zeppelin man was certainly one of the greatest to ever pick up sticks. But if you’re looking for the ultimate drummer, a man who could thud like thunder but still complete open-heart surgery with a double bass pedal, then the real hero is Rush impresario, Neil Peart.
Not only was he one of the band’s primary songsmiths with Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson, but Peart also happened to be one of the greatest drummers of all time. He proved it across an extensive career of release with the prog-rock band. Below, we’re adding a little extra weight to the claim with the isolated drums for Rush song ‘Limelight’. Passing away in 2020, the loss of Neil Peart is still felt vividly today.
After Peart passed away, Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl led tributes saying: “An inspiration to millions with an unmistakable sound who spawned generations of musicians (like myself) to pick up two sticks and chase a dream. A kind, thoughtful, brilliant man who ruled our radios and turntables not only with his drumming but also his beautiful words.”
Sadly gone too soon, Peart was famed for being the powerhouse creative drive behind much of Rush’s prog-rock glory. The drummer became synonymous with expert musicianship and meticulous artistry. In the myriad of sonics that often accompanies Rush’s songs, there is no better way to see this skill than in the isolated drum tracks of their recordings.
Bassist and the band’s chief melody maker, Geddy Lee, shed some light on the track back in 1988. Lee suggested its origins were part of Peart’s inability to deal with fame: “‘Limelight’ was probably more of Neil’s song than a lot of the songs on that album in the sense that his feelings about being in the limelight and his difficulty with coming to grips with fame and autograph seekers and a sudden lack of privacy and sudden demands on his time…he was having a very difficult time dealing with.”
Speaking to CBC, Peart confirmed the track was: “An attempt to clarify for myself and hopefully others a thing that I learned: never complain, never explain.” said Peart of the 1981 track ‘Limelight’. A song destined to make musicians feel OK about themselves for years to come, the track is centred on the tricky negotiation of supply and demand when you’re a young musician, “other musicians will say to me, that song ‘Limelight,’ I get it.’”
Below, listen to Neil Peart express himself through the remarkable isolated drums for Rush song ‘Limelight’.