Various sources are now reporting that Neil Peart has announced his retirement from music and that is a proclamation that, if true, would not come as a complete surprise to fans of Rush in light of statements made by band members ahead of the recent R40 tour. As an example, check out this report. However, did Peart really retire as if he won’t play at all any more or is it a qualified retirement as if he just won’t tour? Or does Peart mean something else?
Our colleagues at Consequence Of Sound have reported that Peart has said he’s “retired” and you can read that report here. Another source, Q104.3, made that similar claim and you can read that report here. Others have similarly reported the same and all these reports stem from a statement that “The Professor” (a moniker that many fans first heard ahead of Peart’s epic solo in Working Man (All The World’s A Stage (1976)) made during a recent interview with Drumhead Magazine. The quote was:
“… Lately Olivia [Peart’s daughter] has been introducing me to new friends at school as ‘My dad– He’s a retired drummer.’ True to say–funny to hear. And it does not pain me to realize that, like all athletes, there comes a time to… take yourself out of the game. I would rather set it aside then face the predicament described in our song ‘Losing It’ (‘Sadder still to watch it die, than never to have known it’).”
There is no doubt that Peart is keenly aware of retirement and he–not surprisingly–is approaching the topic logically and with reason just as you would expect someone of Neil’s stature to do. However, although retirement is near or at least nearing, Peart’s quote can be read to not completely support the conclusion that he’s absolutely retired at this very moment. Indeed, one Rush fan site similarly noted that the statement somewhat falls short of announcing a complete retirement and you can read that here. Additionally, also consider that the official Rush website itself is silent on the topic as is Neil Peart’s website.
Perhaps I am missing the boat on this one and maybe this is indeed Peart’s way of easing fandom into the concept of realizing that The Professor’s work is done. Maybe there is more that Peart said that leaves no doubt that he is finished performing. And some might also say that not being the flamboyant type and avoiding fanfare is Peart’s style thus the “announcement” fits the author. However–and using Peart’s own analogy–didn’t a similarly reserved and legendary athlete (a/k/a Derek Sanderson Jeter)–who also shunned overbearing fans and controversy–at least partake in the retirement tour a little bit and make his “announcement” somewhat more official than Peart’s? And like Jeter–who clearly deserved the attention and honoring on the way out–doesn’t Peart deserve that too?
Maybe Peart doesn’t think so. Maybe he doesn’t want it. Maybe he doesn’t care. Who knows. Nevertheless, if you go back to the very first studio track that most of us heard after Peart joined Rush (Anthem from Fly By Night (1975)) and you follow what the man did behind a drum set up to August 1, 2015 (the last date on the R40 tour), the body of work is legendary, overwhelming, and it will never be replicated again. That deserves a celebration and acknowledgement of greatness and consistency; that is not the same as stargazing and celebrity chasing. And not all of that celebration is Peart’s; some of it is for the fans who followed this mega-trio through the changes in music, theme, and direction. And what the heck, even Derek Jeter–equally known for his endless pursuit of privacy during his entire time in New York–opened up in the end. Even “Jete” let everyone partake in the celebration of his career which like Peart’s, was magnificently consistent for a long period of time. So, what do you say Professor?