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Carl Palmer Remembers His One Meeting With the Late Neil Peart

Neil Peart from Rush
Fin Costello/Redferns

Neil Peart from Rush posed at his drum kit in the Public Auditorium in Cleveland, Ohio on Dec. 17, 1977. 

Progressive rock was a major part of Rush's make-up -- including, of course, Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Drummers Palmer and Peart had only one short meet-up, but as the "elder statesman" Palmer tells Billboard below, he had a great admiration for the late Peart, finding him to be a kindred spirit.

I only met Neil once, in Montreal, at a Rush concert. It was a brief encounter, no more than that. We talked about snare drums. I remember he was a shy man, but a very nice guy.

He helped move the boundaries in progressive rock music. That is for sure. As far as his playing, I would not say he was the most original player but he was always searching. That's what made him interesting. He had very good ideas overall and I commend him on that. The music of Rush was so dynamic it would be hard not to play well in a band like that. Neil always played well, and that’s the most important thing. He looked like, and sounded like, he was trying all the time. And that's why he was a great drummer, because 95% of the time he pulled it off!

The lyrics he wrote for Rush are fantastic. He really moved people. He was very well read and understood what he was saying. His wording was impeccable, and his storylines were fantastic. His lyrics stand out on their own, in addition to his excellent musicianship.

There is no doubt my playing was an influence on Neil. I believe Rush liked ELP a lot. We were both being trios, and I was using and recording with electronics before most people. The very first record with a drum solo played electronically was recorded by me on the Brain Salad Surgery album on a track called "Toccata." Neil carried the flag on from there, in terms of using electronics in his solos. In the end, we had a lot in common.

I wish I could have helped him when he was having problems with his posture when playing; This was the period when he was trying to "re-invent himself,” as he put it. For the record, Neil tried to contact me when he was involved with Cathy Rich and the Buddy Rich memorial albums and shows; Unfortunately, I was busy at the time and could not commit to the project.

I will miss him.