I was standing in a pharmacy this afternoon when my phone rang. It was my dear friend Randy Giudice calling from Los Angeles. I hadn’t heard from Randy in some time, so I picked up right away.
He was the one who broke the news to me that my hero, Neil Peart of Rush, had died:
I never had the honor of meeting Neil, (as I did with his Rush band-mates Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee, in 2007), but Neil once sent me a brief but friendly email, as thanks for naming a character in his honor in my first pair of published Star Trek novels, A Time to Kill and A Time to Heal.
I wish I could have known the man behind the drum kit; I wish I could have had the chance someday to call the Professor a friend. Now that hope is forever quashed, and a measure of my joy in this life departs with him.
Neil Peart was more to me than a musician and an author in a band that I’ve loved most of my life. He was an inspiration to me, a guiding star, a talent who gave words and form to ideas that helped me find my own way as an artist and as a person.
Almost every work of prose I’ve ever published has contained some form of homage, either subtle or overt (usually overt), to Neil Peart’s lyrics. He was my idol — which, given his aversion to the notion of idolatry, is somewhat ironic.
I will always treasure the body of work that he and Rush created and shared with the world, and my grieving heart goes out to his family, his friends, and his colleagues.
All the world’s a stage, but the Professor has just made his exit, stage left.