The drummer Lars Ulrich co-founded Metallica in 1981 alongside James Hetfield and helped the band to become one of the best-selling of all time with an estimated amount of more than 125 million records sold worldwide. They are an influence for countless bands that appeared in the last four decades and continue to record new material and continue to tour on all continents.
Over the years, Ulrich gave his opinion on many other famous drummers and one of them is the late legendary Rush member Neil Peart.
What is Lars Ulrich’s opinion on Neil Peart
The first time that Lars Ulrich had the chance to talk with Neil Peart was in 1984, when Metallica had released only their two first albums and there were not so famous yet. The opportunity happened thanks to the Metallica manager that had already managed Rush a few years before. He gave Neil’s phone number to Ulrich, so that they could talk about a certain drum brand.
The Metallica drummer recalled that story in an interview with Guitar Center in 2014 (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage). “October 1984, Neil Peart was the big Tama (Drums brand) endorsee. Cliff Bernstein, our manager, was the guy that signed Rush to Mercury Records a decade before. So he knew the Rush guys really well.”
“So (he said) ‘Do you wanna talk to Neil Peart about drums?’ I was like that big (tiny) at the time. And (I was) talking to Neil, who was like the God of Gods. So I managed to sort of get enough (courage) to dial the phone number that I was give and I called him.”
“I spoke to Neil Peart for like half an hour about Tama drums. It was pretty amazing. The people at Tama sent me a drum kit to my specifications. So that’s 29 years, I’ve never thought of (me) playing any other drums,” Neil Peart said.
Lars Ulrich picked a side when questioned who was the best between Neil Peart and John Bonham
Neil Peart and the Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham are often named the two greatest drummers of all time. Talking with Howard Stern in 2020, he was asked to say who was the best between the two legendary drummers and he picked a side.
“It’s fucking hard. Listen, I’ve been asked that question, on and off, for 40 years. I would put two additional names on that list. Deep Purple’s Ian Paice is an incredibly technically gifted drummer. (Also) Phil Rudd is what gives AC/DC that incredible bounce and swing.”
“You mentioned ‘When The Levee Breaks’. I mean, that’s classic Bonham. The drums are big, thunderous, ambient. He’s a little bit behind on the snare. And it’s got that groove. He’s in the pocket.”
Lars Ulrich continued:
“The first time I ever met Neil, it was 1984. Our manager Cliff (Burnstein) signed Rush. I had drum questions about gear and this and that. He goes, ‘Neil loves to talk to younger drummers.’ Then he goes, ‘Call Neil. He wants to hear from you.’ And it was, like, ‘Huh?!’”
“I was 20 years old with not a pot to piss in. And I called him, and we spoke 30, 45 minutes on the phone and were geeking out on drums. And the whole thing was like a fairy tale. You can’t play drums and not love Neil. You can’t not be appreciative and respectful. Between Neil and between John, no disrespect, but I’ll have to go with John Bonham,” Lars Ulrich
Ulrich said that he thinks he wouldn’t be able to perform some Rush songs
The Foo Fighters organized two tribute concerts in 2022 to honor their late drummer Taylor Hawkins who had died in the beginning of the year at the age of 50. Many rock stars were invited to perform at the concerts and one of them was Lars Ulrich. He endend up playing AC/DC’s “Back In Black” and “Let There Be Rock” at Wembley with the Foo Fighters and Brian Johnson, and in Los Angeles he performed Black Sabbath’s “Supernaut” and “Paranoid” with Foo Fighters, Geezer Butler and Sebastian Bach.
But at both concerts, a small Rush reunion happened with bassist Geddy Lee and guitarist Alex Lifeson playing “2112”, “Working Man” and “YYZ”. They were accompanied on drums on the two dates by musicians like Omar Hakim, Danny Carey, Dave Grohl and Chad Smith.
Talking with Howard Stern in 2022, a few months after the tribute shows, Lars Ulrich was questioned if he could have performed with Rush too. He said: “I love Rush… if they had said, ‘Come up and play ‘2112’ with Alex and Geddy’, I’d go, ‘I think there’s somebody more qualified to do that than me.
“Could I do it? Obviously, playing with Alex and Geddy would be incredible. Some of the guys, Chad Smith played and Dave played a couple of songs. It would be an uphill thing.”
“It would take a lot of rehearsal, a lot of prep. ‘2112’ would probably be too much of a bite of the apple for me. But in terms of just feeling comfortable, and kind of doing the thing that exists sort of where I am, that AC/DC stuff is right in my fucking pocket. And I love that so much,” Lars Ulrich said.
What Lars Ulrich said after Neil’s passing
Neil Peart joined Rush in 1974, after they already had released their debut album. But he changed completely the band’s sound and lyrics, with his incredible drum skills and the praised and complex lyrics he wrote for the group, since he became their main lyricist.
He did at the age of 67 in 2020, victim of cancer and Lars Ulrich released a touching tribute to the drummer on his social networks.
“Thank you Neil, thank you for inspiring me and for all your help and advice along the way. Especially in the early days when you took the time to talk to a young green Danish drummer about recording, gear and the possibilities that lay ahead…”
“Thank you for what you did for drummers all over the world with your passion. Your approach, your principles and your unwavering commitment to the instrument! Rest In Peace,” Lars Ulrich said.