Known as the electrifying and highly acclaimed drummer and lyricist of the famous rock band, Rush, Neil Peart is an ardent admirer of famed novelist and screenwriter Ayn Rand, whose objectivist philosophies has greatly influenced his libertarian ideas. His 1976 album entitled 2112, for instance, was inspired by “Anthem,” a novel written by Rand. A supporter of Artists Against Racism, Peart’s songs reflects a strong individualist and libertarian theme such as in “Tom Sawyer,” his best-known song that celebrates individual freedom. His last sixteen albums have been certified from gold to platinum and his band has consistently been a top crowd drawer for more than 30 years.
Born as Cornelius Ellwood Peart on 12 September 1952 on his family’s farm in Ontario, Canada, Peart’s interest in music was developed by listening to pop music stations through his transistor radio. His skill as a percussionist manifested itself during his adolescent years when he would drum on different objects around the house with a pair of chopsticks. Noticing his budding skill as a drummer, his parents gifted him during his 13th birthday with a pair of drumsticks, a practice pad and a promise that if his interest in drums would continue during the year, they would purchase a drum kit for him.
His early years as an aspiring rock drummer saw Neal Peart drift from one band to another. He left for England in the hope of pursuing of a successful career as a drummer, but came back home disappointed. But as Fate would have it, he was able to successfully audition in 1974 with Rush, a Toronto-based band as a replacement for John Rutsey, its original drummer. Rush subsequently became the most successful band in Canada and ranked third behind the Rolling Stones and Beatles as having the most number of gold and platinum certified records and videos. Neil Peart himself has received many awards for his electrifying performances and has earned recognition for his skill and stamina at the drums.
Aside from being the band’s drummer and primary lyricist, Neil Peart is a talented writer who has written travel-based books. His songwriting themes has often touched on libertarian and humanitarian ideals that had rubbed off from the individualist and objectivist philosophies of his idol, Ayn Rand. Together with Rush band mates, Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee, Neil Peart was inducted as an Officer of the Order of Canada—becoming the first rock musicians to receive the highest honor that can be bestowed to a civilian by the Canadian government. The prestigious position was awarded for their contribution to the performing arts and service to the community, having raised more then one million dollars for the benefit of the United Way and food banks.