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Mike Portnoy recalls how hard it was to get to meet Rush’s Neil Peart

Neil Peart Mike Portnoy

Classic Rock

Mike Portnoy recalls how hard it was to get to meet Rush’s Neil Peart

Ex-Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy recalled in an interview with Consequence Of Sound how hard it was to get to meet Rush’s legendary drummer Neil Peart, known to be a recluse person that didn’t accept many people into his inner circle.


Mike Portnoy recalls how hard it was to get to meet Rush’s Neil Peart:

“It took a long time before I ever got to meet him, actually. All those years that Dream Theater was coming up and we were very much compared to Rush just because of stylistically what we did. For years and years and years I just wanted to meet him. I never got to meet him, he was always so private and so elusive. I met Geddy and Alex first in 2002.”

“They came back with ‘Vapor Trails’ and I was actually asked to write the liner notes for the Japanese edition of it. So they invited me back to meet them and stuff, and I got to meet Geddy and Alex – which was surreal and amazing – but still never met Neil.”

“And it wasn’t until about 2005 or 2006 that I finally met him. I was asked to be the guest editor for Rhythm Magazine, and I was able to pick the people I wanted to interview, and Neil was one of them – he was obviously the first person I threw out there.”

He continued, saying:

“So they arranged the meeting and I got to meet him. Actually interview him, and hang out with him in his hotel room, and ask all the questions like… You know, normally, if you ask him a nerdy Rush fan question, he’s going to shut you out.”

“But because I was sent there to interview him, I was able to get away with asking him all those questions I always wanted to know. I was allowed to because it was kind of my job. But from there he and I kicked off a friendship that lasted for the next 15 years or so until he passed [in January 2020]. And I consider myself really honored that I was even let into his inner circle because I know how private he is.”

“He would send me emails and pictures of him and his daughter at the library. Or him and his daughters dressed up for Halloween… His emails that he would send me were like reading his lyrics or reading a book; it was so meticulously worded and just so entertaining to read.”

Mike Portnoy continued, saying:

“It got to a point where he would invite me out to soundcheck anytime they came through and always opened up his dressing room to me. The last time I saw him was on the last tour, he invited me and my son Max out. I really wanted Max to see Rush live and see Neil play live before they retired.”

“And it was just an amazing experience. He let Max play his drums and we hung out with him… He was just so gracious once you were able to infiltrate his inner circle. And he was just the most gracious, kindest person. That’s something that I’ll value forever. It was such an honor to have that relationship with him those last years. It was just really incredible.”

I'm a Brazilian journalist who always loved Classic Rock and Heavy Metal music. That passion inspired me to create Rock and Roll Garage over 6 years ago. Music has always been a part of my life, helping me through tough times and being a support to celebrate the good ones. When I became a journalist, I knew I wanted to write about my passions. After graduating in journalism from the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, I pursued a postgraduate degree in digital communication at the same institution. The studies and experience in the field helped me improve the website and always bring the best of classic rock to the world! MTB: 0021377/MG

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