Neil Peart’s opinion on Phil Collins
Neil Peart joined the Canadian band Rush in 1974, after the band had already released their debut album, but he changed completely the course of their career with his incredible skills on drums and also after he became the band’s main lyricist.
Over the decades, the late drummer was considered one of the greatest of all time and he talked in interviews about many of his peers, one of them being the Genesis drummer and vocalist Phil Collins.
What was Neil Peart’s opinion on Phil Collins
Genesis started their career in 1967 a few years before Rush and was one of the most influential Progressive Rock bands of all time. Phil Collins joined them as their drummer in 1970, recording with the group for the first time on their third studio album “Nursery Cryme”. After that first record, they started a run of very successful albums when Peter Gabriel was still the group’s frontman. But after Gabriel decided to leave, Collins became the band’s vocalist and in the following years they mixed Progressive Rock with a more Pop approach and became even bigger.
Just like all the Rush members, Neil Peart was heavily influenced by the British Progressive Rock bands and of course, by Genesis. So he followed the band’s career closely especially in the 70s and had Collins as a big influence. In an interview with Modern Drummer magazine back in 1980, Peart listed the Genesis drummer as one of his favorites.
In a conversation with Rhythm magazine in 2011, Peart praised Phil, saying he was still part of his drumming and was an essential influence to him.
“Phil Collins was an enormous influence on my drumming in the ’70s. Thus remains a part of my playing even today. His recorded drum parts with Genesis and Brand X in those years were technically accomplished, yet so musical – even lyrical. (Also) his rhythmic patterns were woven into the intricacy of the music. While lending a smooth, fluid pulse to the songs and extended instrumentals.”
Neil Peart continued:
“His fills were imaginative and exciting, alive with energy and variety. While the refined technique was always in the service of the music. Even within those fills, Phil applied a jazz drummer’s sense of dynamics. Which also guided his ensemble playing, and inspired me to try to incorporate that sensibility into my own triple-f approach.”
“Plus, his drums sounded so good. Good-sounding drums are always the result of a good-sounding drummer, and speak of the player’s touch. Phil’s combination of that quality and the natural drive of his playing produced truly melodic-sounding drum parts. Flowing and musical. One outstanding piece of work that reflected all of those qualities was the Genesis album ‘Selling England By The Pound’, from ’73,” Neil Peart said.
In the same interview he revealed that he was lucky enough to have seen Collins live with Genesis in 1974 just before he joined Rush. The band was promoting their latest album at the time “Selling England By The Pound” at the Century Theater in Buffalo, New York.
“it was simply a galvanising performance, by him and all of that excellent band. The music from that night’s show echoed in my head long after. While Phil’s vocal performance on ‘More Fool Me’, was a harbinger of a whole other career to come,” Neil Peart said.
Neil Peart two funny close encounters with Phil Collins
At least until 2011, when Neil Peart talked with Rhythm magazine, he never had the opportunity to properly met Phil Collins. However, he had to “close encounters’ with the British musician but they didn’t talk to each other. He recalled that the first time was in the late 70s when Peart was in London recording with Rush and he saw Collins at a bookstore. The second time was decades later, when they were eating in the restaurant of a hotel in Switzerland.
“I find it amusing that despite not meeting ‘formally’, Phil and I have actually encountered each other face-to-face, unknown to him, on two occasions, almost 20 years apart. In the late ’70s, I was recording with Rush in London. One day (I) popped into a science-fiction bookstore in Soho called Dark They Were And Golden Eyed. At the door, I stood back to hold it for another patron. (It was) a bearded little guy in flat cap and overcoat, on his way out.”
Neil Peart continued:
“Our eyes met for a moment, we nodded courteously. I recognised Phil in his hirsute ‘Artful Dodger’ period. (It was) just before he was thrust into the frontman position with Genesis that would so change his life. From modestly successful drummer to immense international popstar.”
The second time that both musicians were at the same place was in the 90s in Geneva, Switzerland. Peart had just arrived at the hotel after a motorcycle journey he did with a friend across Italy, Tunisia and the Sahara desert. They went to have dinner and coincidentally Phil Collins was also there eating a few tables away. But Peart decide not to bother the drummer and didn’t said hello.
Neil Peart and Phil Collins were both huge Buddy Rich fans
Besides the love for drums and Progressive Rock, both drummers had another thing in common: Buddy Rich was one of their biggest influences. In the 90s Neil Peart paid tribute to the Jazz drummer recording an album “Burning For Buddy” (1994). That record had many famous drummers playing the late musician’s songs. At the time he sent a letter to Phil Collins inviting for the project. But the British artist had to say no because he was already very busy with his solo career projects.
A few years later, in 1998, after being invited multiple times by Buddy Rich’s daughter to do a concert with Rich’s big band, Collins accepted the offer and did a special concert with them. That performance even became a documentary called “A Salute To Buddy Rich”.
One year before, Collins had already formed his own big band. According to him, one of the inspirations he had for doing that was hearing Neil Peart’s tribute album for Buddy Rich. “The idea had been in my head for ages.”
“I had actually been thinking about it during my last tour for the ‘Both Sides’ record. Hearing Neil Peart’s ‘Burning For Buddy’ record also inspired me. Especially Kenny Aronoff’s performance. So anyway, with all this in mind, I started making plans with my manager,” Phil Collins told Modern Drummer magazine in 1997.
The opening drum fills of Rush’s “Time Stand Still” were influenced by a Genesis song
Neil Peart loved Genesis and revealed in an interview with Hudson Music in 2012 (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage), that it was after listening to an ‘Old Genesis record” that he had the idea for the intro of the song “Time Stand Still”. That track was part of Rush’s 1987 album “Hold Your Fire”.
“That’s an interesting story about those opening fills. Because I heard, I think it was an old Genesis record, where there is a timbale fill. Really quick triplets across the time. I though it was so cool. I worked on it, worked on it, worked on it. And got it down which is exactly that (you hear in the song).”
“Then I was working in the same studio in London where that was recorded. I mentioned to one of the engineers. He said: ‘Oh yeah, we slowed the tape down for that’ (laughs). So it’s an interesting case. I tried to reproduce something that wasn’t even human to begin with. It was something that was done with a little extra help.”
“But the ambition and the inspiration, because I though it was so exciting, I wanted to learn how to do that. I spent a lot of time trying to do that. So it’s just an ironic twist on the end of that effort,” Neil Peart said.