B.C. drummer plays 175 Rush songs in 24-minute video tribute to Neil Peart

January 12, 2022
B.C. drummer plays 175 Rush songs in 24-minute video tribute to Neil Peart

Why play one Rush song when you can play 175?

That was Brandon Toews’ approach to honouring late Rush drummer Neil Peart. 

The percussionist from Chilliwack, B.C., performed a mashup of 175 Rush songs in a video as a tribute to Peart, who died two years ago of brain cancer. 

Peart, revered by fans and fellow musicians alike for his technical prowess, has had a huge influence on drummers who followed, Toews included.

WATCH | Brandon Toews plays all 175 Rush songs in tribute to Neil Peart:

“Neil was known for really having put together some of the finest drum parts in history,” Toews said.

“Myself, like probably every other Canadian drummer out there, he played a big role in my personal development as a player. I remember as a young kid just trying to learn the parts that he had on those Rush tracks. Anyone who knows him — even beyond his drumming — [knows] just how dedicated and hard-working he was. That’s kind of the approach I wanted to take while putting this together.”

Toews came up with the idea in July. He spent 10 weeks going through the band’s catalogue, picking out moments in each song that highlighted Peart’s immense skills, and practising them before putting it all on video. 

Musician Neil Peart of the band Rush performs at the Nokia Theatre on May 6, 2008, in Los Angeles, Calif. (Jesse Grant/Getty Images)

Toews’ homage extended to his drum kit. Peart was known for using a massive drum set that completely surrounded him, and Toews — with the help of Drumeo, an Abbotsford-based music education website where he works — did his best to replicate it. 

“It was probably upwards of 70 or 80 pieces, which was actually a lot more than he would tour with live, but because we were going through the entire 40-year catalogue of Rush’s music, there were certain pieces that he only used in the 80s or only used in the 90s and all of that had to accessible,” he said. 

“There was electronics, there was classical percussion, obviously standard drum set parts, just tons of drums and cymbals on the kit. It was a lot of fun to play.” 

Legendary Rush drummer Neil Peart performs solo

Neil Peart, the late drummer for Canadian rock band Rush, performs a drum solo. 0:45

The tribute also includes songs from Rush’s debut studio album, which featured the band’s original drummer, John Rutsey.

Toews said he has received a lot of positive feedback since posting the video on Jan. 7, the second anniversary of Peart’s death. 

“Anyone who knows Rush knows that they kind of have a cult following, people who are very dedicated fans like myself and many, many others,” he said.

“These albums and these songs are sort of the soundtrack to people’s lives. So seeing people responding so positively has been a really cool experience.”

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