“We feel like we were robbed of the moment”: Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson wanted to put on a tribute event for Neil Peart – before Covid derailed plans

“We still talk about it. If we can get our shit together we might be able to pull something off.”

[L-R] Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee

Credit: Rocky Widner/FilmMagic

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On 7 January 2020, Rush lost longtime drummer Neil Peart. He died from Glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer.

In a new interview with Classic Rock, Geddy Lee explains that he and guitarist Alex Lifeson had tentative plans to put on a tribute event honouring their late bandmate and friend, but they were inevitably derailed by the Covid pandemic, which got into full swing in March of that year.

On the two Taylor Hawkins tribute shows in London and LA that he and Lifeson played classic Rush tracks at – alongside drummers Dave Grohl, Chad Smith, Danny Carey and Omar Hakim – Lee is asked whether he ever considered a similar event in memory of Peart.

He replies: “We did. We were planning to do a memorial in Toronto, but then the pandemic hit, and by the time we’d come out of it a couple of years had passed. We feel like we were robbed of the moment. But you never know. We still talk about it. If we can get our shit together we might be able to pull something off.”

On the Taylor Hawkins tribute shows, Lee recalls feeling differently at each for different reasons. He says the London show was “perhaps the most joyous celebration of loss that I could ever imagine”, adding that he’d “never seen so many musicians in one place, and the atmosphere backstage was profoundly positive”.

He further commends the atmosphere at and surrounding the show, saying: “Every night you’d be in the bar with these folks, and there was no backbiting, no cynicism, no one-upmanship. You could feel the spirit of Taylor and the love coming from the Foo Fighters family. That was really touching.

“So here we were, Alex and I, having not played together in years, feeling pretty nervous about who’s going to play the drum parts. But it all came together, and in some ways it was maybe the greatest gig of my life. The whole atmosphere was like nothing I’d ever experienced.”

But he says the vibe at the LA Forum show later that month was different, owing to the fact that it was where Rush played their final show with Neil Peart.

“Being back at the Forum, where my band had played for the last time, it felt like I was returning to the scene of the crime,” he says.

“So I tried to be as joyous as I was in London, but I couldn’t find that same head-space. I was much more withdrawn backstage at that show, thinking about things. But I walked away from it feeling that at least we had done justice to Taylor, and in a small way, justice to Neil.”


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