With the passing of Neil Peart, the world of rock music … and music in general lost a huge creative force that inspired generations of music fans.
Arguably standing next to John Bonham (Led Zeppelin) as rock’s most influential drummer, Peart impacted how future generations approached drumming and even lyrics, as people have noted Peart’s ability to write about everything from science fiction and politics, to human emotion.
Commenting on Peart as a drummer, audiophile and professional integrator, David Frangioni, founder of the multi-office commercial and residential integration company, Audio One, and the publisher of Modern Drummer magazine, provides a unique perspective on the career of the iconic drummer.
Peart’s Impact Goes Beyond the Drums
Frangioni emphasizes that not only did Peart impact the sound of Rush through his innovative approach to drumming, but he also wrote thoughtful lyrics.
“Neil changed Rush forever, not only because his drumming was so innovative, but also because of his lyrics,” Frangioni states.
“His phenomenal drumming is one thing, but he was just as prolific as a lyricist and changed the band’s songwriting to new heights because of that.”
Beyond his technique and lyrics, Frangioni says that Peart also built upon the contributions of his influences, which include Emerson Lake and Palmer drummer Carl Palmer and The Who’s Keith Moon.
“He was influenced by Carl Palmer’s work and drum kit in ELP in the mid-1970s, as well as Keith Moon. The 1970s saw Neil bringing his own version of Carl’s percussive-based drum kits into Rush with tubular bells, gong, tympani, concert toms, etc. Then as the 1980s hit, he incorporated electronics drums with a ‘B’ kit that was behind him,” Frangioni explains.
“The drum riser would spin, and he would play the secondary kit towards the audience. He continued to be on the cutting edge and evolve his drum kits with every album/tour revealing a new kit. He truly took the concept of a world-renown drum kit to the next level as drummers anxiously awaited every new kit to see what Neil was going to innovate and how. Right up until the R40 tour and kit … his last, they changed rock drum kits forever.”
Peart also set a precedent for well-known professional musicians to continue their music educations. Peart, in a similar fashion to Ozzy Osbourne’s legendary guitar player Randy Rhoads, sought out lessons at the height of his fame to improve his drumming.
Frangioni notes that in the 1990s Peart took lessons with the famous drum teacher Freddie Gruber. The result didn’t really change the sound of Rush says Frangioni, but Peart did learn more about “rebound,” and playing with less tension to help his endurance as a drummer.
Accessing Peart’s contribution to modern music, Frangioni adds that Peart elevated his status on a level that approaches singers and guitar players, which isn’t an easy feat for drummers.
“Neil Peart has been on the cover of Modern Drummer magazine more than any other drummer in history. He was and is a modern-day drum icon, a role model and inspiration to more drummers than most other drummers combined since the early 1980s,” comments Frangioni.
“He will always live on to be one of the greatest rock drummers of all time … one of the greatest drummers of all time, and an innovator that will continue to influence generations of drummers for decades.”
Here are five songs that David Frangioni says highlight the style of Neil Peart: Click Here!