Rush is a Band

A blog devoted to RUSH:
Neil Peart, Geddy Lee & Alex Lifeson

Sun, Apr 21, 2024

John Rutsey passes away at age 55

Tue, May 13, 2008@7:39AM | comments removed/disabled

UPDATE - 5/17@9:44AM: The official statement from Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson:

Our memories of the early years of Rush when John was in the band are very fond to us. Those years spent in our teens dreaming of one day doing what we continue to do decades later are special. Although our paths diverged many years ago, we smile today, thinking back on those exciting times and remembering John's wonderful sense of humour and impeccable timing. He will be deeply missed by all he touched.

Alex & Geddy

Donations may be made in Johnís memory to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, 7100 Woodbine Avenue, Suite 311, Markham, ON, L3R 5J2 (online:, by phone: 905-944-4631).

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UPDATE - 5/15@10:52AM: A short obituary which includes information for charitable donations in John's name was published in today's National Post (thanks i love rush).

John Rutsey
RUTSEY, John Howard - It is with deep sadness that John's family announces his untimely passing due to complications from his lifelong affliction with diabetes, at age 55. Donations may be made in John's memory to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, 7100 Woodbine Avenue, Suite 311, Markham, ON, L3R 5J2 (online:, by phone: 905-944-4631). Online Condolences:

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UPDATE - 5/13@10:44PM: Some more details are starting to trickle in via Draco over at Counterparts. Apparently the cause of death was a heart attack brought on by complications from diabetes. His family will be making an announcement as to where to send a charitable donation in his memory within the next few days.

If you've been keeping up with the comments in the original blog post over at the Q107 Rock Report you may have noticed a few comments from some notable names in Rush history. Here's one from the woman credited with discovering Rush back in 1974 - Donna Halper:

When I discovered Rush in Cleveland in 1974, John was the drummer and he looked really frail even back then. There were rumours he was on drugs but NO! He was not. He was struggling with diabetes, and would all his life. I hope he rests in peace-- a very good guy with a disease that today is treatable, but back then, not so much.
Posted by Donna L. Halper on 5/13/2008 3:27:15 PM

And here's one from Lindy Young - who is Geddy's brother-in-law and had a short stint in Rush back in 1969:

John was an integral part of the band Rush in the beginning. It was his drive and leader- ship that first help establish the band. A solid drummer with a flare for showmanship made him unique. What a pleasure it was to play with John,Geddy and Alex in the those early days of Rush. Goodbye, my friend.
Posted by Lindy Young on 5/13/2008 5:00:49 PM

Now that I've had all day for this news to sink in, and after a few listens to Rush's debut album ... I'm pretty bummed out about it. Rest in peace John.

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The Q107 Rock Report is reporting that Rush founding member John Rutsey passed away over the weekend according to Rush's management company Anthem. Rutsey was with Rush from 1968 to 1974 and played on the band's self-titled debut album after which he quit the band due to creative differences and health issues. He was replaced by Neil Peart in the summer of 1974. He died on Sunday, May 11 at the age of 55. As of the moment there has been no official statement on a cause of death nor plans for a memorial service. Thanks to Jay C and Brian S for the heads up.

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