Happy Birthday Neil Peart: Live On ‘Letterman’ In 2011

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In 1974, drummer Neil Peart joined Rush and solidified a lineup that would revolutionize progressive rock over his four decades together with bassist Geddy Lee and guitarist Alex Lifeson. Peart — who hasn’t performed live since Rush unofficially retired on August 1, 2015 — turns 67 today. In honor of the occasion, here’s a look at a memorable appearance he made without his mates on a 2011 episode of The Late Show With David Letterman.

The CBS late-night television show hosted its first ever “Drum Solo Week” in June 2011. Letterman tapped Anton Fig, Sheila E. and Roy Haynes to perform drum solos in the spot where bands would usually play and brought the week to a close with a rare television performance from Neil Peart. “My regular live drum solo is about eight and a half minutes, so I decided I’d have to do a mental edit, accelerate the changes and minimize the improvisational parts and so on,” Peart explained to Music Radar. “At the rehearsal, during my first attempt, I had it down to about four minutes and 50 seconds, and the producers were giving me these worrisome looks.”

Thankfully, the producers realized who they were dealing with and let Peart pound away for nearly five minutes. Watch the final result from the June 9, 2011 episode of Letterman below:

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