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TDC - Neil Peart

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I caught maybe 15-20 RUSH shows over the years, from 1981 to the 2015 farewell tour. That’s 34 years of great concerts!

I understand Neil’s perspective when he wrote “I can’t pretend a stranger is a long awaited friend,” but that’s how the band seemed to me. Every time they’d pass through, I’d get a visit with my long awaited friends.

Mourn the loss, celebrate the life, enjoy the music and writings he left us. Thanks, Neil!  We’ll miss you.

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I too was introduced to Rush by way of All the World’s a Stage: the local FM station (97.1 KAYD, “FM-97”) would play the live version of “Working Man” on a regular basis. (This was in the days when FM radio had no issue playing 15-minute songs in regular rotation.) I bought the album and was off and running as a Rush fan.

I only got to see them six times; I wish it could have been more.

10/25/1977 - Beaumont City Auditorium, Beaumont, TX

03/04/1979 - Fair Park Coliseum, Beaumont, TX

04/05/1982 - Lake Charles Civic Center, Lake Charles, LA

01/15/1986 (or maybe it was 01/16/1986) - The Summit, Houston, TX

06/11/2011 - Frank Erwin Center, Austin, TX

04/23/2013 - Frank Erwin Center, Austin, TX


Neil’s second book, Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road, came out in 2002.

After his daughter died in a car crash and his wife died from cancer (“The doctors said it was cancer, but I knew it was of a broken heart”) in a span of about 10 months, the only way he could think of to deal with it was to get on his motorcycle and ride. He covered roughly 55,000 miles of North and Central America, trying to heal what he referred to as his “little baby soul.” Ghost Rider is a chronicle of that journey.

Several years ago when I first got a Kindle, I downloaded it, kind of skimmed through it and thought it was an interesting travelogue.

But I recently read it again from a paperback edition. As I’ve mentioned before, my wife of thirty years died in 2014. So this time I read it with a whole new perspective.

Obviously, Neil Peart’s life and mine are (were) very different. I lost my wife; he lost his wife AND daughter. He was a successful, world-famous musician living his dream life and I’m…not. And I couldn’t exactly get on a R1100GS and check out from the world; I had a nine-year-old daughter to tend to and an 18-year-old son just out of high school trying to figure out what to do with his life. Not to mention I had to get up and go to work every day.

But many of the things he wrote about really struck a chord – besides, loss is loss, regardless of your life situation. So I felt a bit of a kinship to him.

“If the first is the year of sorrow, then the second is the year of emptiness.” How very true.

As I read, I found myself wishing I could reach out to Neil and have a conversation. Obviously, that wasn’t going to happen, but there are many things I would have liked to have talked to him about – and none of them pertained to music or Rush.

I was a couple of chapters away from finishing the book when the news broke that he had died. So even if I HAD found some way to communicate with him (which I never had any delusions of doing anyway), it definitely wasn’t going to happen now.

So goodbye, Neil, from your longtime fan and brother in loss.

Edited by Dana_V
Edited to correct a typo.
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I just discovered the news of this on another site, what a huge loss to music this is, I've  been a big fan of Rush since my early teens.  I had suspected something like this might have been wrong when they retired from touring, but of course had hoped not, but that aside obviously playing a usually 3-hour long set of music as complex as theirs would be hugely demanding to anyone, but more so to people who are in their 60s.  I only saw them live once on their 'Permanent Waves' tour in 1980 when I was 15 and not really mature enough to fully appreciate their music.  There are a couple of long books I've read every few years since my 20s and each time I read them I find more things in them I hadn't noticed or appreciated on previous reading; it's a bit like this for me with Rush too, only it's music instead of literature.  A life sadly curtailed by an awful disease but he acheived so much and did so much, he fulfilled his potential, lived his dream and gained huge recognition for his abilities.  I'd hoped there might have been one or two more studio albums to come from Rush even though they'd stopped touring but I obviously I have an answer to that personal question now.   RIP Neil.

Edited by Mr. Dave
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