Ear of Newt recently posted a couple of blogs on Rush drummer Neil Peart regarding his appearance on Late Night With David Letterman last week, where he performed a lengthy solo to conclude the talk show’s “Drum Solo Week”. Most of the subsequent comments from readers were about how fantastic a player Peart was, and where he stands as far as the world’s all-time greatest drummers are concerned. But not everyone was 100-percent complimentary toward the 58-year-old skinbasher.
“One of the best drummers of all time but this guy is a total dickhead,” commented James Johnson on the second blog. “He won’t do meet and greets and absolutely hates when fans approach him or even say hi. This corksucker forgets who buys his cd’s and dvd’s and pay their hard earned money to watch Rush concerts. He claims he’s shy but also goes on about not wanting to interact with the people that made him rich. No class what so ever and believe me I am a Rush fan since 1976.”
Johnson’s fervent Peart-bashing reminded me of what happened about ten years or so ago, when I sent to see Rush play General Motors Place (now called Rogers Arena), performing 2112 in its entirety. The show was awesome, it goes without saying, but I remember going backstage afterwards for the meet ”˜n’ greet and being a little disappointed when only Geddy and Alex ambled out to say howdy and sign some autographs. The good news was that I had brought along my vinyl copy of the first Rush album--the only one Peart didn’t play on--so in a way it was apt that he didn’t show up. I would have had to wrestle the felt pen away from him: “No, no—you can’t sign it! Only John Rutsey can sign it!" (Original Rush drummer Rutsey passed away in May of 2008.)
Now, if I’d brought along a beer-stained copy of Hemispheres or maybe Moving Pictures—which Rush will perform in its entirety at Rogers Arena on June 30—I might have been a little perturbed by Peart’s absence. And I’m not one of the millions of hardcore Rush fans who’ve passionately followed them from day one. I enjoy a lot of their tunes and totally admire the band for its musicianship and for how it’s bucked trends and found huge success on its own terms, but I’m far from the biggest Rush fan in the world. Still, I’ve always wondered if it would kill the guy to saunter out and spend two minutes communicating with the fans who live and breathe his music. Maybe it would. Maybe his phobia of social interaction with Rush freaks is just too much for him to bear.
If that’s the case, then let’s just leave the poor guy alone. We’re not the boss of him. And if he’d rather hang around backstage counting his drums than spreading the love, so be it. That doesn’t make him a dickhead, does it? Or a “corksucker”, whatever that is.
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