Neil Ellwood Peart OC (; September 12, 1952 – January 7, 2020) was a Canadian musician, songwriter, and author, best known as the drummer and primary lyricist of the rock band Rush. Peart earned numerous awards for his musical performances, including an induction into the Modern Drummer Readers Poll Hall of Fame in 1983, making him the youngest person ever so honoured. Known to fans by the nickname 'The Professor', his drumming was renowned for its technical proficiency and his live performances for their exacting nature and stamina.
Peart was born in Hamilton, Ontario, and grew up in Port Dalhousie (now part of St. Catharines). During adolescence, he floated between regional bands in pursuit of a career as a full-time drummer. After a discouraging stint in England, Peart returned home to concentrate on music where he joined Rush, a Toronto band, in mid-1974, six years after its formation. Together they released nineteen studio albums, with ten exceeding a million copies sold in the United States. Billboard ranks the band third for the "most consecutive gold or platinum albums by a rock band".
Early in his career, Peart's performance style was deeply rooted in hard rock. He drew most of his inspiration from drummers such as Keith Moon, Ginger Baker, and John Bonham, players who were at the forefront of the British hard rock scene. As time passed, he began to emulate jazz and big band musicians Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich. In 1994, Peart became a friend and pupil of jazz instructor Freddie Gruber. It was during this time that Peart revamped his playing style by incorporating jazz and swing components.
In addition to serving as Rush's primary lyricist, Peart published several memoirs about his travels. His lyrics for Rush addressed universal themes and diverse subjects including science fiction, fantasy, and philosophy, as well as secular, humanitarian, and libertarian themes. Peart wrote a total of seven nonfiction books focused on his travels and personal stories. He also coauthored with Kevin J. Anderson three steampunk fantasy novels based on Rush's final album, Clockwork Angels. The two also wrote a dark fantasy novella, Drumbeats, inspired by Peart's travels in Africa.
On December 7, 2015, Peart announced his retirement from touring in an interview with Drumhead Magazine. In January 2018, bandmate Alex Lifeson confirmed that Rush had disbanded also due to Peart's health issues. During his last years Peart lived in Santa Monica, California, with his wife, Carrie Nuttall, and daughter. After a three and a half year illness, Peart died of glioblastoma on January 7, 2020, at age 67.