Geddy Lee Opens Up About Neil Peart’s Final Months

In a recent interview with Craig Charles of BBC Radio 6 Music, Geddy Lee, the bassist/vocalist of the iconic rock band Rush, discussed the challenges of writing about the death of the band’s drummer, Neil Peart, in his memoir, “My Effin’ Life”. Lee acknowledged the difficulty of addressing Peart’s passing and expressed the need to be both discreet and honest about his own perspective. He emphasized that his viewpoint is personal and may not align with the perspectives of Peart’s family or loved ones.

The memoir delves into the period between Rush’s final gig in 2015 and Peart’s passing in 2020, offering insights into the drummer’s brave demeanor during his last years, marked by health challenges. Lee shared anecdotes, conversations, and emails exchanged with Peart, portraying him as a courageous individual. The book aims to provide fans with a deeper understanding of the bond and experiences shared during their over 40 years of collaboration.

Lee addressed the retirement of Peart in 2015, revealing the band’s desire for an extended tour and the challenges they faced due to Peart’s health issues. The conflicting emotions within the band during this period are highlighted, with Peart expressing contentment about his retirement while Lee and guitarist Alex Lifeson grappled with the potential end of Rush. Ultimately, Peart’s health concerns became a deciding factor, leading to his retirement and, later, a diagnosis of glioblastoma brain cancer.

Geddy Lee is currently on his “My Effin’ Life In Conversation” tour, sharing stories from his memoir and reflecting on his experiences with Rush. The memoir and the tour provide fans with an intimate look into the band’s journey and the impact of Peart’s legacy on Lee.

 “Oh, it was very difficult. And I had to be discreet, but honest about my perspective. My perspective is only mine; it’s not the perspective of his family, his loved ones, his daughter, et cetera. That’s theirs. So I had to tread carefully, but I think it was helpful for me, and I think people are interested to know what happened between [Rush’s] final gig in 2015 and Neil‘s passing [in 2020]. So I did my best to be honest and respectful of what Neil would have okayed me to talk about and to paint the portrait of what a brave person he was through all the difficulties of those last few years and how he always would say, ‘Mustn’t grumble.’ And he still was very much a thinker right up to the end. So I tell these stories. I share some of the conversations, some of the e-mails we sent back and forth to each other during a very troubling time. And I hope fans understand that in a way, it’s my homage to him and the 40-plus years we spent working, laughing and loving together, I guess you could say.

Well, [Neil] retired in 2015. And that was a hard and bitter pill for Alex [Lifeson, Rush guitarist] and I to swallow. Even though Alex was having health issues of his own, he still wanted that last tour to go on longer, as did I. We were very proud of the ‘R40’ tour, and I especially wanted to bring it to the U.K., ’cause we have so many good fans there, and to Germany and to Holland, where we have some really diehard fans, but [Neil] had only agreed to do 30 shows, and we had to honor that agreement. ‘Cause he wasn’t gonna do any shows before that tour, and he acquiesced. Of course we held out hope that he’d change his mind and he was having so much fun that he would say, ‘Oh, come on. We’ll do another 20 gigs.’ But it wasn’t meant to be.

“[Neil] was having a few health problems of his own in a different way. And I think that sealed the deal for him. And so at the very last gig, we were quite divergent in our moods. There was a dressing room that Neil was in that was ebullient and happy that he was about to retire and enter this other phase of his life with his wife and his young daughter. And then you had Alex and my dressing room where we were kind of down in the dumps because we knew this could be the very end of our band. So it was conflicting emotions during that period of time. And, of course, it was only a year later that [Neil] was diagnosed with glioblastoma brain cancer. And, of course, none of that mattered anymore. That was a moot point then.”

About Subhojeet Mukherjee

Subhojeet has been a huge pro wrestling fan since 2002, and it's been his first love ever since then. He has years of writing experience for all things pro wrestling. His interests outside of wrestling include films, books and soccer. Subhojeet has reported for Alternative Nation, Ringside News, and Britpopnews.

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