Back in April, the AMA commissioned me to shoot one of the greatest drummers of all time, Neil Peart, of the band RUSH for their September cover . Why would the American Motorcyclist Association want a rock star on their cover, you ask? Because of his incredible story….you see, Neil lost both his wife and daughter in 10 month period of time back in 1997 and 1998…from his website: ”Within a ten-month period, Neil Peart suffered family losses so devastating that they left him a ghost — physically a man but with nothing. No hope, meaning, faith, or desire to keep living. One year after the first tragedy, Neil was choosing between life and his own death. Finally, all he could decide upon was motion. He got on his BMW R1100GS motorcycle, and over the next 14 months, rode 55,000 miles, in search of a reason to live. On a journey of escape, exile, and exploration, he traveled from Quebec to Alaska, down the Canadian and American coasts and western regions, to Mexico and Belize, and finally back to Quebec. While riding “the Healing Road,” Neil recorded in his journals his progress and setbacks in the grieving/healing process, and the pain of constantly reliving his losses.” ‘Ghost Rider’ is that book. It’s an incredible read.
Neil rode his BMW R1200GS the day of this shoot. I asked Neil why he chose the color red for his bike. Neil said that BMW, at that time he bought the R1200GS, did not make the bike in red because the red had been discontinued. But he had the bike custom painted red like the R1100GS he rode on his journey because it is his favorite color.
I spent the day with him as he rode the hills above the beautiful Pacific Coast Highway North of Malibu. Funny as hell, down-to-earth, and an all around good guy/rock star/greatest drummer of all time. And I just recently read that Neil became a father again with his wife…a baby girl in August. As Mohandas Gandhi said, “Where there is Love, there is Life.” Congratulations to Neil! And thank you to Richard J. Atkins, wordsmith extraordinaire, and writer of this great piece for the AMA.
Here are few from that session.