My Neil Peart Story
As you probably know by now, one of the greatest drummers of all time Neil Peart passed away last week after a 3 year battle with brain cancer. Over the last 36 years in Rock Radio I've had the pleasure of telling the story of my first concert but it's never had the meaning that it's taken on with Neil's passing.
It was March 27, 1975 in my home town of Kenosha, WI. I was 14 years old and 3 of my buddies and I got permission to skip school to get in line for the Kiss, Rush and Thin Lizzy show at the Kenosha Ice Arena. When we got to the arena early that afternoon there wasn't a line yet so we decided to go across the street to Dairy Queen but just then a long gray limo pulled up and 4 guys got out. It was Kiss and they weren't wearing their make up. We lamented for a long time after that if we'd only had a camera we'd be rich.
Later, once inside, we were about 6 rows back on the left where Gene Simmons would be standing. We had prepared for this night by playing the Kiss album and Rush's "Fly By Night" till the grooves were gone. Just before the show started an announcement was made that Thin Lizzy cancelled and Rush would be taking the stage first. Now, I had seen other famous drummers on TV like John Bonham and Keith Moon to name a few but what I saw that night was other worldly. The kit was enormous by that day's standards and Neil Peart, the first drummer I ever saw live, just blue me away. I didn't think this guy was human. In fact, it ruined me for the rest of the drummers I'd see after that. It was like the first guitarist you got to see live was Hendrix. Thank you Neil for being the one to bust my cherry.