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Neil Peart’s Legacy Celebrated at Modern Drummer Festival

OXNARD, UNITED STATES - MAY 12: Neil Peart of Rush poses for a portrait with his DW drum kit on the Drum Channel soundstage on May 12, 2010 in Oxnard, California, United States. (Photo by Clayton Call/Redferns)

You’ve missed it now, but through the wonders of the “it never really dies, it just goes online…” technology, and a reasonable 13 bucks, you can still see the Modern Drummer’s 20th annual Drumming Festival, the first in two decades that wasn’t celebrated in person in front of its usual massive audiences. The event was held, like so much of our life now, virtually, on September 12th, livestreamed to drum devotees across the world.

But this one was special (maybe they all were, in fact, one presumes they probably were) because it was a tribute concert to Neil Peart, the iconic figure behind the drums for Rush, who died earlier this year from brain cancer. He was only 67.

“Neil was a drum hero of mine through my entire life,” Modern Drummer publisher David Frangioni said. “What an honor to present the festival in tribute to him. The amazing drummers who participated spoke to the impact that Neil had on everyone’s life.”

Some of the proceeds went / will still go if you buy a ticket to see the replay (which was streamed on LiveXLive) to benefit brain tumor research at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

The stunning three-hour tribute was performed by a galaxy of famous and great (perhaps not as famous) drummers, including Rick Allen from Def Leppard, Kenny Aronoff, John Mellencamp’s drummer and perhaps the hardest working man in show business, given the amount of session work he’s in demand for, Carmine Appice, Anthrax’s Charlie Benante, Gregg Bissonette who has played with Ringo Starr (which is kind of like cooking for James Beard), Stewart Copeland, ex of the Police (that’s the group, not, say, the Phoenix Arizona Death Squads masquerading as law enforcement) and Chad Smith from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, just to name drop a few.

Carl Palmer, one of the greatest drummers to ever pick up the sticks, spoke and shared remembrances of Peart.

Incredibly, the event was way more attended than usual, when it is a two day affair. There’s something to be said for packing all the adrenalin and intensity into 180 minutes.