There is plenty of news around the web today that Neil Peart of Rush has hung up his drumsticks for the last time. Anyone who has followed my blog at all will know that two bands stand out in my life - Marillion and Rush. Both I've followed for years and years since the 70s/80s and I've never tired of their output and seen them both a fair few times live.
Marillion famously lost their front man and charismatic singer Fish to find only the more eclectic Steve H who in my opinion has driven them to their greatest creative heights - btw I've already paid for their next album due next year, like I did with Anoraknophophia when the whole idea of fans funding an as yet unwritten and recorded album via a web site was frankly considered nuts.
But to Rush - I recently saw a post about stable line ups of bands. No contest in my view - I instantly answered with Rush. Neil was the last to join after the first album was already out and the band on the way up the ladder in the summer of 1974. They have had the same lineup from then to now - that is some record. I struggle to come close to a band with that longevity of line up - and one that hasn't sat on it's back catalogue but continued to put out new material throughout their career, and material of great quality too. Neil's addition, with his incredible ability on the drums and also some of the best lyrical writing to grace any genre of music, pushed Rush towards greatness. A man who also faced great tragedy in life losing both his daughter and wife in quick succession some years ago, he once before declared he was retired and set off journeying across the Americas on motorbike. Read his book about it a great tail of loss and recapturing hope. Frankly the last studio album Clockwork Angels is up there vying with Moving Pictures, Permanent Waves and others as probably their finest work ever and who in the 21st century creates an entire steampunk universe and writes a subversive hero stands out story for a full blown concept album with accompanying book? Oh yes... Rush! Who nailed the entire thing and then provided me with one of the two best gigs of my life on that tour at the O2 in London - the only gig that compares is Led Zep at Knebworth in 1979!
So Neil admits to health issues around chronic tendinitis and Alex Lifeson whilst willing to go on it is reported has a major issue with arthritis. So it looks like Rush will, at least as a touring force, be no more. I'd love a farewell studio album but then Clockwork Angels was so good why not leave it there? In the posts I've seen Neil quotes one of my favourite songs of theirs - From Signals which is one of my top albums btw when I was dead keen to get my band of the time to follow in Rush's shoes that people commented material I'd written a few months before we heard it sounded too similar. Losing It - "Sadder still to watch it die, than never to have known it." They included this in the live set on their last tour (R40) which made me wonder as they'd never played it live before and with the message it contains about the genius suffering the agony of watching age take their talent away I thought there was a major message to the hardcore fans there.
Farewell to the Kings.... Thanks for all the music and memories and inspiration...