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The 3 drummers that Neil Peart said he liked to hear in the 80s

Neil Peart


The 3 drummers that Neil Peart said he liked to hear in the 80s

Neil Peart was born in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada in 1952 and started his musical career in 1968, around the age of 16. Six years later in 1974 he had the opportunity of a lifetime, being invited to join Rush that had already released a praised debut album in the same year.


After joining Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson in the group, Peart not only became one of the greatest drummers of all time. He also was the band’s main lyricist, changing almost completly their sound and songwriting style.

Back in 1987, when the group already was famous and had released many successful albums, Peart talked with Rhythm Magazine and revealed which were the 3 drummers he liked to hear at that moment. Rock and Roll Garage selected what the musician said about those artists during his career and his connection with some of them.

The 3 drummers that Neil Peart said he liked to hear in the 80s

Phil Gould (Level 42)

“I love to listen to Phil Gould of Level 42. Just for the way he keeps the beat. He puts the backbeat so far back you can hardly believe it. When I try to just tap along with one of their songs, I just about break my arm trying to get the beat that far back,” Neil Peart told Rhythm Magazine

As Neil Peart said, Phil Gould was another drummer that he liked, who was also part of a New Wave band called Level 42. The musician was born in Hong Kong and studied percussion at the Royal Academy of Music in London. The first successful band he was part of was M, from 1978 to 1980. Then he helped to form Level 42 in 1979 and he was part of the group until 1987.

Then again from 1993 to 1994 and for the last time in 2004. Since then he had released the album “Terraforming” in 2009 as Gould, Brown and Black. Besides also two solo records, one in 2009 and another in 2021.

During a conversation with Modern Drummer magazine in 1989, Peart had praised Phil Gould again, saying that he played in a simple and beautiful way. “A good drummer that I like who plays simply is Phil Gould, who used to be with Level 42. He plays very simple, R&B-influenced drumming.”

Neil Peart continued:

“But when he pulls a fill out it’ll be a beautiful fill. And his feel is great. If you try to tap along with their downbeat-on-the-3 type of songs, you’ll just about break your hand trying to come down behind the beat as much as he does.”

“He has that feel down so well. It’s very satisfying for me to listen to from a drummer’s point of view or from a music fan’s point of view. It feels great, has tremendous authority. (Also) has the spice of a great little fill leaping out of it,” Neil Peart said.

Steve Jansen (Japan)

“I like to hear interesting ideas. There’s a drummer called Steve Jansen who used to play with a band called Japan. I think he’s very innovative in a rhythmic sense. (Also) combines drum sounds in very unusual ways,” Neil Peart told Rhythm Magazine

The British drummer Steve Jansen is one of the founding members of Japan, band which Neil Peart praised. The group was active from 1974 to 1982 and from 1989 to 1991, with a sound that mixed New Wave, Glam Rock, Synthpop and more. In the late 70s and early 80s they managed to released nine United Kingdom Top 40 hits. Including the track “Ghosts”, that ended up being a Top 5 hit single in 1982.

But while the band wasn’t active, Jansen played with many other musicians and groups. Some of them are Rain Tree Crow, The Dolphin Brothers, Nine Horses, Exit North and many fellow drummers. He also released his first solo studio album in 2007 and his most recent one was out in 2022, being called “Neither Present Nor Absent”.

Gene Krupa

“But somebody like Gene Krupa I still enjoy listening to, because it’s such exciting music,” Neil Peart told Rhythm Magazine. It was not a suprise that after all those years, Peart still liked to listen to Krupa. Talking with NPR back in 2015, the late musician recalled that he decided he wanted to be a drummer after he watched the classic 1959 film “The Gene Krupa Story”.

“He was the first rock drummer, in very many ways. Without Gene Krupa, there wouldn’t have been a Keith Moon. He was the first drummer to command the spotlight. The first drummer to be celebrated for his solos. Because they were very flamboyant. He did fundamentally easy things. But always made them look spectacular.”

Krupa died in 1973 at the age of 64, just one year before Neil Peart joined Rush. The artist was known for the energetic style and showmanship. Also is considered the founding father of the modern drumset.

In that same interview with Rhythm Magazine in 1987, Peart recalled that the first thing that his drum teacher played for him when he was still a teenager waas a drum battle record that featured Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich.

“I think Gene Krupa was a really important influence because of the abandon with which he played. It might be a little inaccurate. But it’s still so great. So well conceived in terms of being exciting to play and for an audience to listen to,” Neil Peart told the magazine.

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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