The drum kit that late RUSH drummer Neil Peart used on tour and in the studio with the band from 1974 through 1977 fetched more than half a million dollars at an auction this week.
The kit, which had a pre-auction estimate of $80,000-$120,000, was sold for $500,312 at a Bonhams auction in Los Angeles. It features blue drum heads stamped with the RUSH logo and one saying "neil" and the other "peart." A 14-inch tom-tom is signed by the drummer.
Although RUSH had formed as early as 1968 and had even released its eponymous debut album, it wasn't until original drummer John Rutsey left and Peart stepped in that the band's flame was truly ignited. It went from a blues and hard rock band whose first album was considered derivative of LED ZEPPELIN to a platinum-selling progressive rock powerhouse. Peart not only provided the basis for more complex song structures with his masterful drumming, but by taking over as a lyricist, he freed bassist/vocalist Geddy Lee and guitarist Alex Lifeson from a duty they had never wanted so that they could focus on bringing the collective musicianship to another level.
Peart reportedly arrived at his July 1974 audition with RUSH in a battered car, wearing shorts and transporting his drum kit in trash cans. Lee and Peart hit it off instantly, although it took Lifeson a bit longer to warm to warm to the drummer. Still, they eventually agreed to invite Peart into the band on July 29 of that year, two weeks before the group's first U.S. tour. Peart purchased a silver Slingerland drum kit from local music store Long & McQuade that he used on his first show with the band, opening for URIAH HEEP and MANFRED MANN'S EARTH BAND at the Civic Arena in Pittsburgh on August 14, 1974. He played this kit on the breakthrough "Fly By Night", "Caress Of Steel" and "2112", considered among the greatest progressive rock albums of all time. Probably the highest-profile live appearance of the kit was the three-night performance at Toronto's Massey Hall when the band's first live album "All The World's A Stage" was recorded. Peart was introduced at those shows as "the Professor on the drum kit" and his extended drum solo on "Working Man", played on the Slingerland kit, is legendary among fans.
"All The World's A Stage" marked the end of RUSH's first chapter and Peart's Slingerland drum kit was soon afterward retired. RUSH had gone from LED ZEPPELIN wannabes to a U.S. Top 40-charting band with a distinctive sound poised to win fans the world over. The Slingerland kit had been on the road for five consecutive U.S. and Canadian tours and was seen by thousands of fans from 1974 through 1977. Neil retired the kit at that time and placed it in storage where it sat until it was brought out a decade later as a prize in Modern Drummer magazine's "Neil Peart Drumset Giveaway." Drummer Mark Feldman won the kit and kept it until auctioning it off on eBay in 2009. Dean Bobisud purchased the kit he affectionately named "Chromey" and restored it. Since that time, Dean had been touring around the country displaying "Chromey" to raise money for charity. Last month, Dean decided to sell the kit.
In a statement announced his decision to part with "Chromey", Dean wrote: "To all the RUSH fans and fans of 'Chromey,' I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all of you, for your enthusiasm for the kit, and for your curiosity about the upcoming sale of it.
"I had to make a very difficult and heartbreaking decision to sell Chromey for a myriad of personal reasons," he explained. "For 12 years I've enjoyed bringing the kit to various appearances and at the Rhythm Discovery Center. Over the years I realized how much I enjoyed sharing Chromey with the fans far more than owning it, and I'm always going to miss that heartwarming experience of seeing the fans excitement and how much the opportunity meant to them. Remember, it's Mr. Neil Peart we need to thank for putting this drum kit's history in place and blessing us with the opportunity to share it with others.
"From myself and all who have been on the 'Chromey Crew,' thank you all for so many years of joy celebrating RUSH, Neil Peart, and this amazing drum kit," he concluded.