Neil Peart -- The Latest News

Monday, January 30, 2012

Neil Peart remembers Andrew MacNaughtan

Neil Peart has posted a tribute to Andrew MacNaughtan at Here's how it begins:

From our first meeting in 1985 until his tragic and unexpected passing (the day after what we never suspected would be our last photo shoot together), Andrew and I shared a lot of history, from the best to the worst. With Rush, we had toured together all over North America, South America, and Europe, and Andrew and I also spent a lot of "family time" in our various homes in Toronto and Los Angeles, at the MacNaughtan cottage on Georgian Bay, and at ours in Quebec. Andrew's path first crossed mine when we both lived in Toronto, and continued when we both lived in Los Angeles--in my case, entirely because of Andrew.

Read the full tribute here.

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posted by AndyO @ 11:25 AM   0 comments

Friday, January 27, 2012

Andrew MacNaughtan, Rush photographer, passes away

I was saddened to hear that Canadian photographer and director Andrew MacNaughtan, who had taken many of Rush's photos since 1989, passed away suddenly on Wednesday. He was 47. While I never met Andrew in person, I always enjoyed his photos of Rush -- and bought multiple prints from his website over the years. He took many of my favorite portraits of Neil Peart behind his drums, including this one of Neil for the Vapor Trails tour book:

Andrew MacNaughtan's portrait of Neil Peart for Vapor Trails

MacNaughtan's photos of Rush first appeared in the Power Windows tour book. He became Rush's personal assistant during the Presto and Roll the Bones tours. MacNaughtan's portraits of Rush in the Roll the Bones tour book helped to capture the humorous side of the band in a new way.

But in the Counterparts tour book, he took the portraits to a whole new level. Who can forget this one of Alex Lifeson?

Andrew MacNaughtan's portrait of Alex Lifeson in for Counterparts

For many Rush fans, the years after Neil Peart's tragedies (1997 - 2001) were full of darkness and silence. I had doubts that the band would ever return. But then one day, I received photos of the band taken by MacNaughtan. And my world was a little brighter. We would find out later that MacNaughtan introduced Peart to his wife, Carrie Nuttall. 

Andrew MacNaughtan's portrait of Rush for Vapor Trails

In his book Ghost Rider, Neil tells the story of how he met Carrie:

In less than a day I was in Los Angeles; in less than a week Andrew introduced me to Carrie, my real angel of redemption; in less than a month we were deeply in love, and in less than a year we were married in a fairy-tale wedding near Santa Barbara...

After our first, awkward meeting at a Hollywood restaurant with Andrew and his date, Carrie and I were brought together again later that week by Andrew (a determined little matchmaker) for a hike in Topanga State Park with him and his dog, Bob, an amiable Jack Russell terrier. Carrie and I walked together the whole way (Andrew discreetly ahead with Bob: our chaperones) and talked about the world and our lives in it.   

With the next two Rush releases, MacNaughtan branched out into video. He was responsible for two Rush documentaries, including "The Boys in Brazil" on the Rush in Rio DVD and "The Game of Snakes & Arrows" on the DVD version of Snakes & Arrows. (MacNaughtan won a Juno for Music DVD of the Year for Rush in Rio.) Read an interview with MacNaughtan by Brad Parmerter about the Rio documentary.

While MacNaughtan had been Rush's principal photographer since 1989, now other celebrities came calling, including Canadians Bryan Adams, Celine Dion, the Tragically Hip, author Margaret Atwood -- even the Madam Clarkson, the Governor-General of Canada.

Photograph of Celine Dion by Andrew MacNaughtan

But MacNaughtan turned his success into a way to help other people. Many of the signed Rush portrait sales raised money for multiple charities. In 2006, MacNaughtan worked with World Vision on his ArtGivesHope exhibit, which raised $55,000 to build houses for families in Africa that are affected by HIV/AIDS.

More recently, MacNaughtan published the book Grace, featuring photos of people and animals in Africa. On the ArtGivesHope website, MacNaughtan said, "My photography of musicians is commercial art; this is the first time I've done a project that is strictly fine art and intensely personal, something artistic, powerful and dramatic."

One of the photographs from Andrew MacNaughtan's "Grace"

I do have one personal story about Andrew that I think shows what kind of person he was. When the Rush in Rio print went on sale, I ended up buying one (my first). Unfortunately, I didn't follow the payment instructions correctly -- which meant I lost my signed, numbered print. After some email back and forth with Andrew, he found an alternate print for me that I could purchase. That print is now hanging proudly in my drum room.

My Rush in Rio print

Added after first publish:

I also have a second story about Andrew. It was on the Presto tour that I met my good friend, Monica Z. Among the many behind-the-scenes people Monica told me about was Andrew MacNaughtan, who was Rush's personal assistant at the time.

She told me the story of interviewing Andrew in Seattle with Mick Burnett and Neil Elliott for "The Spirit of Rush," one of the best Rush fanzines out of the UK. (This was way before the Internet, folks.) I still remember her saying that in the middle of the interview Andrew got a call. After he hung up, he said something like, "That was Neil."

Anyway, here's the full interview "Behind the Camera Eye" courtesy of PowerWindows. This is from The Spirit Of Rush, issue #17 - Winter 1991/1992 and issue #18 - Spring 1992. One thing that comes through is what a huge fan Andrew was of Rush.

Rush has issued a statement on their Facebook page:

We're deeply shocked and heartbroken to learn of the sudden passing of our close friend and long-time photographer, Andrew MacNaughtan. He was a sweet person and a very talented artist. Words cannot describe how much he will be missed. -- Geddy, Alex & Neil

Andrew MacNaughtan's official website posted the following image:

Photo of Andrew MacNaughtan


posted by AndyO @ 6:55 PM   2 comments

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Results from Neil Peart fills poll

This survey was all about Neil Peart fills. I decided to open it up so people could add additional fills to the list. This made it more interesting, but also made it more difficult to count votes -- because I couldn't always tell which fill someone was referring to. Because of this, I had to drop some of the options people had added.

The Results

1. Tom Sawyer solo fills - 30%

You could say these are probably the most important fills Neil has ever played. "Tom Sawyer" was the song that launched Rush into popular culture and expanded Rush's audience considerably. (This was the song that captured my attention.) As I wrote about these series of fills on my "Top 10 Fills" page:

Who can forget this drum-solo-within a song? The first fill is trickier than it seems (if you watch the Archives studio video, Neil actually skips a tom on the way down). The second is the famous "quadruplet" with a triplet feel.

Here's Neil talking about the difficulties of playing "Tom Sawyer." There's also a clip of him playing it around the time it was recorded (at Le Studio):

2. Natural Science solo fill - 18%

This was the big surprise -- as I didn't have this on my original list (but it should have been). This is the kind of fill that happens so fast, you're left wondering what just happened. I had to slow it down to really understand what was happening. Neil would go on to use this same approach for solo fills in songs like "YYZ" and "Leave That Thing Alone." 

Watch Neil play "Natural Science" on the Snakes & Arrows tour:

If you're looking for more about what Neil's playing here, I recommend watching Ray Harber's lesson on "Neil Peart's four note grouping." The part about the "Natural Science" fill comes in around the 7-minute mark.

3. Vital Signs - Fill at the end of the song: 11%

This has always been one of my favorite fills because of the level of excitement it brings to the song.  

Here's what Neil Peart had to say about "Vital Signs" and this fill in his article, "Notes on the Making of Moving Pictures."

Conceptually, this song was an attempt to bridge the gap between the primal appeal of the rhythmic reggae "bounce" and the electronic energy of high-technology music. As a drummer, this gave me the opportunity to begin as a simple "groove" player, and then grow through various developments into the "overplaying show-off type" toward the end! I drew on many influences throughout this progression: notably the works of Creme and Godley, Ultravox, The Police, the great things that Michael Giles did with early King Crimson, a healthy dose of good old hard rock, and a little Caribbean influence.

Here's a version of "Vital Signs" with isolated drums. You can really hear how much they tweaked the drum and cymbal sounds.

Full results:

Fill Votes Percent
Tom Sawyer (solo fills) 31 30%
Natural Science (solo fill) 19 21%
Vital Signs (fill at the end) 11 12%
Leave That Thing Alone (solo fill) 8 9%
La Villa Strangiato (solo fill) 5 5%
The Camera Eye (into last verse) 5 5%
The Spirit of Radio (leading to the second part of the song) 4 4%
YYZ solo fills 4 4%
Red Barchetta (after guitar solo) 3 3%
Armor and Sword (before the chorus reprise at the end) 3 3%
Between the Wheels (solo fill) 3 3%
The Digital Man (opening) 2 2%
Time Stand Still (opening fills) 2 2%
Freewill (after the "each of us" section) 1 1%
The Enemy Within (last opening fill) 1 1%
Total votes 102  


Thanks to everyone who voted!

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posted by AndyO @ 5:24 PM   0 comments

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

New update: January, 2012

Neil has written a new story for his website with an update called "At the Gate of the Year." Lots of great stories and reflections in this one.

Now, at the pivot of another year (my sixtieth, I am proud to crow--how foolish to regret the passing years, if you consider the alternative), I am drawn to a kind of "reckoning," a time to pause and reflect. The title phrase has long resonated for me that way: "the gate of the year."

Neil Peart driving At the Gate of the Year

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posted by AndyO @ 6:30 PM   0 comments

Neil Peart Drums Vol. 2 The Grooves

A few years back, Neil Peart recorded some drums with Rush producer Nick Raskulinecz. This session was turned into a release by Sonic Reality called Neil Peart Drums Vol. 1: The Kit. You can read my previous blog posts about this project here.

Now we have the follow-up release: Neil Peart Drums: Vol. 2 The Grooves. The idea here is you can sample Neil's "500 groove patterns" for use on your own songs if you want.

Buy R.A.W. Artist Pack: Neil Peart Drums Vol. 2 The Grooves. (Downloadable sounds)

Here's the info:

R.A.W. Artist Pack: Neil Peart Drums Vol. 2 The Grooves.

Pre-Release Version


Your Price:

As a follow up to Sonic Reality's Neil Peart Drums Vol. 1 The Kit, in 2012 Vol. 2 The Groove series is about to begin. Here is an opportunity to get a pre-release version of the the Neil Peart Drums R.A.W. Artist Pack featuring Rex, Apple Loops and Wave drum grooves performed by Neil Peart, the legendary drummer of the band Rush, which was recorded by producer Nick Raskulinecz (Rush, Foo Fighters, Alice In Chains). This title focuses on the hard rock grooves of Rush in the style of songs from Rush's "Roll The Bones" album up through "Snakes and Arrows". Over 500 groove patterns to work with in any combination with flexible tempos so they can fit into any style of music you re working on. It's like having Neil Peart play drums on your songs! Don t miss this chance to get a preliminary introductory price on an incredible new drum groove library from Sonic Reality! Neil Peart Drums R.A.W. Artist Pack is the ultimate collection of album quality stereo mixed drums for your music!

  • Rex 597 Loops, 487MB (unzipped)
  • Apple 597 Loops, 642MB (unzipped)
  • Wave 597 Loops, 641MB (unzipped)

Included Grooves

  • Armor Grooves
  • Cry Grooves
  • Dream Grooves
  • Ghost Grooves
  • MagNarc Grooves
  • Main Monkey Beats
  • Spind Grooves
  • The Larger Beats
  • Victory Grooves
  • Way The Wind

Thanks to Rush Fan Unification Project for the head's up!


posted by AndyO @ 12:07 AM   0 comments

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Results from Neil Peart drum poll

I created a survey on Facebook recently, asking people to vote on 10 Neil Peart drum kits. (Note that this survey did not include all Neil Peart drum kits, as I could only include 10 due to a Facebook survey limitation.)

After 129 votes, here are the top 3:

#1: Time Machine DW - 43% of the vote


#2: Red Tama Artstar (prototype), used on Signals through Power Windows - 13% of the vote


#3: Tie between: Snakes & Arrows DW and 30th Anniversary DW - each with 10% of the vote



Full results:

Drum kit Votes Percent
Time Machine DW 56 43%
Red Tama Artstar 17 13%
30th Anniversary DW 13 10%
Snakes & Arrows DW 13 10%
Rosewood Tama 10 8%
White/Purple Ludwig 6 5%
Slingerland Chromey 5 4%
Hockey Kit DW 4 3%
Roll the Bones Ludwig 3 2%
Red Sparkle DW 2 2%


Thanks, everyone, for voting!


posted by AndyO @ 11:32 PM   0 comments