With the news of the death of Rush drummer and lyricist Neil Peart, radio reacted with tributes to the pioneering Canadian musician. Peart, who was quietly battling brain cancer for the past three years, died at the age of 67 Friday afternoon (Jan. 10).
In the band’s hometown of Toronto, Corus Entertainment rock “Q107” CILQ (107.1) launched an hour-long tribute to the progressive rock trio upon hearing the news. Across the border, Cumulus Media “97 Rock” WGRF (96.9) Buffalo “broke the news when we heard a little after 4:00 on Friday followed by an hour of Rush songs,” PD John Hager told Inside Radio. “During the 7-midnight show that day we played a four-song block of Rush each hour.”
On Monday (Jan. 13), WGRF’s “The Morning Bull” was joined in studio by Buffalo News music critic Jeff Miers, who reflected on Peart and the band. Miers wrote a lengthy piece for the paper that can be viewed HERE. “We played a block of Rush in the noon hour with actualities from Neil and a live version of 2112 during our “Live Tune At 2” feature this afternoon,” Hager continued.
Meruelo Media classic rock KLOS Los Angeles went wall-to-wall Rush upon hearing the news on Friday, with a tribute that included radio staples “Limelight,” “Subdivisions” and “Freewill,” alongside deeper cuts such as “Overture/Temples of Syrinx,” “Trees,” and “Xanadu.” The non-stop Rush tribute on KLOS went until midnight.
In Philadelphia, Beasley Media Group rock WMMR (93.3) interrupted its live broadcast from the Pocono Mountains with afternoon host Jaxon dedicating the “Afternoon 12-Pack” to the music of Rush. At classic rock sister WMGK (102.9), afternoon personality Andre Gardner “was first on the air at 4:05pm with a 30-minute long Rush tribute,” WMMR/WMGK PD Bill Weston tells us. “He gathered, edited and aired Neil Peart interview clips about drumming, song writing and life which aired in between songs.”
On Sunday (Jan. 12), WMMR morning man Preston Elliot (a drummer himself) and midday fixture Pierre Robert hosted a nearly four-hour tribute to Peart, speaking with Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy (a regular guest of the Preston and Steve Show), taking calls from listeners and sharing stories and recollections of the famed percussionist. Weekend overnight host Markus played side one of the classic Rush album “2112” Sunday at midnight. The ‘MMR tribute continued into Monday with Robert dedicating his “Workforce Blocks” segment to the band.
The news of Peart’s passing was reflected by rock radio across the country. Beasley rock WRIF Detroit (101.1) dedicated a five-song block to the band Friday afternoon, while Entercom rock KISW Seattle (99.9) and Hubbard classic rock KSHE St. Louis (94.7) each played an hour-long block on Friday. iHeartMedia classic rock WAXQ New York (104.3) aired double-shots of Rush throughout the day.
The Mediabase 7-Day analysis report shows Entercom rock WAAF Boston (107.3) giving the band 76 spins, compared to eight spins the week prior. WMMR also played the band 76 times in the 7-Day report, while rock sister WDHA-FM Morristown, NJ (105.5) spun Rush 70 times over the same period.
Production house Benztown created an audio tribute to Peart, written and voiced by Bill Royal and produced by Matt Anderson, Benztown's Director of Custom Imaging. The audio tribute can be downloaded HERE.