in ,

How Did Neil Peart Die? His Secret Cancer Battle

how did neil peart die? Geddy Lee, Neil Peart, Alex Lifeson at the ceremony where RUSH is Inducted Into Guitar Center's RockWalk at Guitar Center on November 20, 2012 in Los Angeles, CA
Image from Shutterstock.

He was “the Professor.” The drummer and hit lyricist behind Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductees Rush, Neil Peart, was a legend on the sticks. From his flawless technique to his literary-inspired lyrics, he is one of the great musicians of our day. When it was announced that he had passed away, fans everywhere were unsurprisingly shocked and heartbroken. 

Who was Neil Peart, and how did Neil Peart die? Find out that and more below. 

How Did Neil Peart Die?

Neil Peart’s cause of death was glioblastoma, which is a highly aggressive form of brain cancer. 

How did Neil Peart find out that he had brain cancer? Although the rockstar’s illness was a closely guarded secret, making the announcement of Neil Peart’s death a shock to fans, he had been diagnosed three and a half years before he was officially deceased. 

The road to Peart’s diagnosis all began with his struggle to complete his Sunday tradition of completing the crossword puzzle in the New York Times. Then, two months later, his fellow Rush bandmates told Audacity that “he was much quieter than normal and began making mistakes with his words.” After a doctor’s appointment, an MRI, and surgery, the diagnosis was officially made. 

On finding out from Peart of the diagnosis, Alex Lifeson recalled, “It was so unusual to get a call from him because he was never comfortable on the phone. “You’d get these beautiful emails from him. But he wasn’t that crazy about talking to anybody. I was in shock. But I could tell there was something weird. I thought maybe it was a difficulty with a connection or something. But he just didn’t seem like he normally was. And I kept thinking about it afterward.” 

neil peart heat shot
Image from Shutterstock.

When Did Neil Peart Die?

Neil Peart’s death came on January 7, 2020, however his family, friends, and fellow Rush band members did not announce that he passed away until three days later on January 10. 

The official announcement on Rush’s website stated: 

“It is with broken hearts and the deepest sadness that we must share the terrible news that on Tuesday our friend, soul brother and band made of over 45 years, Neil, has lost his incredibly brave three and a half year battle with brain cancer (Glioblastomas). We ask that friends, fans, and media alike understandably respect the family’s need for privacy and peace at this extremely painful and difficult time. Those wishing to express their condolences can choose a cancer research group or charity of their choice and make a donation in Neil’s name.” 

How Old Was Neil Peart When He Died?

Neil Peart was 67 years old when he passed away in Santa Monica, California. 

Where is Neil Peart Buried?

According to Find a Grave, once Neil Peart was deceased, he was cremated, with his ashes being given to his surviving family members and friends. Peart was survived by his mother, Betty Peart, and his father, Glen Ellwood Peart, although he would pass away the following year on June 12, 2021. His death would also be the result of cancer, like Neil Peart’s cause of death. 

Sadly, his first wife, Jacqueline Flockhart Taylor, and their daughter, Selena Justine Peart Taylor, died several years earlier, in 1998 and 1997, respectively.  

Peart was also survived by his second wife, photographer Carrie Nuttall, and their daughter, Olivia, born in 2009 as well as his three siblings. 

While little is known about Neil Peart’s funeral, a public memorial was held in Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, on February 1, 2020, as “a place for Rush fans in Dallas Fort Worth to come together as a community and show their support for one another.” It is expected that both of Neil Peart’s public and private funerals attracted many wanting to remember the musical legend.

Who Inherited Neil Peart’s Money?

At the time of his death, Neil Peart’s estate was worth a whopping $42 million, which was due in large part to his more than four-decade career as the drummer of the hit rock band Rush. His songwriting royalties, touring profits, solo projects, endorsements, and more have also attributed to that final number. So, who inherited Neil Peart’s estate? 

While Neil Peart’s will has never been disclosed, it is assumed that his inheritance went to his second wife and daughter. It is possible that Neil Peart’s will also mentioned his parents and siblings, but that has never been confirmed either. 

When was Neil Peart Born?

Neil Peart’s birthdate was September 12, 1952. 

Neil Peart’s Zodiac sign was Virgo, which means he was versatile, reliable, practical, sensitive to other people’s feelings, analytical, and logical. Considering his stellar career, we’d say all those descriptions are accurate for the famed drummer, percussionist, and songwriter. 

Where was Neil Peart From?

Neil Peart was originally from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. 

Related: 19 Famous Artists You Didn’t Know Were From Canada

Where Did Neil Peart Live?

At the time of Neil Peart’s death, he was living in Santa Monica, California. 

Neil Peart’s Ethnicity

Neil Peart had a few various ethnic backgrounds. His father’s side of the family brings German, Scottish, and English into the mix, while his mother’s side brings in Irish ancestry. 

neil peart, geddy lee, and alex lifeson from the band rush holding up their hands
Image from Shutterstock.

How Tall was Neil Peart?

Neil Peart’s height was 6 feet, 4 inches tall. 

How Much Did Neil Peart Weigh?

Neil Peart’s weight was estimated to be approximately 225 pounds, although it is expected that that was significantly decreased by the time of his death, considering the nature of his illness. 

How Did Neil Peart Become Famous?

Neil Peart gained international acclaim as the drummer of the famous and highly successful rock band Rush. Although he also established himself as a solo artist on some projects and as a songwriter, it’s still his involvement with the band that fans remember most. 

Related: 24 Funny Drummer Jokes

Neil Peart’s Parents

Neil Peart was the son of Glen and Betty Peart. For most of his childhood, his father worked as a parts manager for the International Harvester farm machinery dealer Dalziel Equipment.

His parents were very supportive of their son’s musical ambitions, purchasing him his first drum kit for his 14th birthday after previously purchasing him drumsticks and a practice drum with a promise for the kit if he stuck with it for a year. 

Peart once said of his childhood that it was “happy” and “he experienced a warm family life.” 

Neil Peart’s Siblings

Neil Peart was the oldest of four children. Neil Peart’s brother Danny and Neil Peart’s sisters Judy and Nancy were all born after the family moved to St. Catharines in Ontario when Neil Peart was just 2 years old. 

Who was Neil Peart Married To?

Neil Peart was married two times. He had a 23-year common-law marriage to his wife, Jacqueline Taylor, until her death on June 20, 1998. 

Peart later married Los Angeles photographer Carrie Nuttall on September 9, 2000. Peart and Nuttall were introduced by Andrew MacNaughtan, a long-time photographer of Rush. 

Neil Peart’s Children

Neil Peart had two daughters. The oldest of Neil Peat’s daughters was Selena Taylor, born from his relationship with his common-law wife. His second daughter, Olivia Louise Peart, was born in 2009. 

How Did Neil Peart Lose His Wife and Daughter?

Neil Peart knew what tragedy looked like in his life as the first of his children and his wife both died within less than a year of each other. 

It all began on August 10, 1997, when his daughter, Selena Taylor, who was 19 at the time, was killed in a single-car crash. The event happened near Brighton, Ontario, on Highway 401. Ten months later, on June 20, 1998, his common-law wife, Jacqueline Taylor, died of cancer. Peart, however, attributed her death to a “broken heart,” describing it as “a slow suicide by apathy. She just didn’t care.” 

The loss hit Peart hard, as one would expect. In fact, at Jacqueline’s funeral, he told his Rush bandmates, “Consider me retired.” While he didn’t ultimately leave, he did take a sabbatical and was later pulled from meet-and-greets with the band to avoid him having to answer questions about the tragic year of his life. 


As already established, the height of Neil Peart’s career was as the primary lyricist and drummer for the famed rock band Rush. He came on as a replacement for the band’s original drummer, John Rutsey, and the rest is history, with Peart officially joining the band on July 29, 1974. 

His lyrical style of songwriting had a heavy literary influence with some of the most famous of Neil Peart’s songs, including “2112,” “Jacob’s Ladder,” “Tom Sawyer,” and “The Trees.” 

Deemed “the Professor” by his bandmates because of his way with words and expansive vocabulary, as Law & Liberty puts it, “in those disparate works, Peart explored a wide variety of subjects. But one prominent theme emerges in his lyrics over the course of his four decades with Rush: the pursuit of human greatness.” Additionally, “Peart’s lyrics suggest that while greatness may be rare in a democratic society, it is not unachievable.” 

Throughout his career, Neil Peart also held numerous side projects, releasing the Neil Peart movie A Work in Progress, a documentary DVD, along with others, and making cameos in films like Adventures of Power and Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters

neil peart on stage playing the drums with the band rush
Image from Shutterstock.

What Happened to Rush After Neil Peart Died?

One way to describe it for Rush fans is sad. We say it’s loyalty that Neil Peart’s Rush bandmates chose not to continue performing following the drummer’s death. Geddy Lee told Rolling Stone, “That’s finished, right? That’s over. I am still very proud of what we did. I don’t know what I will do again in music. And I’m sure [Alex Lifeson] doesn’t, whether it’s together, apart, or whatever. But the music of Rush is always part of us. And I would never hesitate to play one of those songs in the right context. But at the same time, you have to give respect to what the three of us with Neil did together.” 

Who Did Neil Peart Say Was the Best Drummer?

Like many legendary musicians, there were legends that they also looked up to. Among Neil Peart’s list of influences were Phil Collins, Keith Moon, Peter Erskine, Buddy Rich, and Gene Krupa, according to Far Out magazine. 

Related: Phil Collins’ Net Worth

Was Neil Peart a Good Drummer?

Neil Peart was highly considered one of the best drummers of all time, but don’t take our word for it. 

According to Variety, “Widely considered one of the most innovative drummers in rock history, Peart was famous for his state-of-the-art drum kits – more than 40 different drums were not out of the norm – precise playing style and on-stage showmanship.” 

Additionally, The New Yorker’s Amanda Petrusich once wrote, “Watching Peart play the drums gave the impression that he might possess several phantom limbs. The sound was merciless.” 

If that’s not enough to convince you, he was inducted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 1983, as he was known for his technical proficiency and was compared to the likes of Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham, The Beatles’ Ringo Starr, and The Who’s Keith Moon. 

Related: 29 Best Drummers of All Time, Ranked


Neil Peart was a drumming legend with a gift of songwriting, and his heartbreaking death was and still is considered a substantial loss to popular music. Despite this, one thing is certain. He will never be forgotten. 

As one poignant lyric says in Neil Peart’s song “The Garden,” “The measure of a life is a measure of love and respect; so hard to earn, so easily burned.” He earned the love and respect of many, and luckily, that will never be burned away among his fans. 

You May Also Like: 

Written by Katie Peterson

Katie Peterson received her bachelor's degree in English from the University of Saint Mary in Leavenworth in 2015. She has worked in journalism since 2015, beginning as production assistant and eventual head staff writer of the Fort Leavenworth Lamp newspaper in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Currently, she is a multimedia journalist with the Diocese of Nashville's Office of Media and Evangelization where she writes, does photography, and edits for several types of content, including the Tennessee Register, Catholic Awakenings, and She has also worked as a freelance journalist with the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas's newspaper, The Leaven, since 2016.
In her spare time, Peterson enjoys reading, spending time with her pup, Sadie Lynn, singing and songwriting.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *





how did jim croce die? jim croce outside putting his fit on something

How Did Jim Croce Die? The Tragic Details of the Plane Crash

Michael Lyon Album art for "What Could Be"

Michael Lyon Releases New Album,”What Could Be”