The Rush drummer passed away at the age of 67 on January 7 in Santa Monica, California, after a secret three-year battle with a brain tumour, according to his family’s spokesperson Elliott Mintz.

His band shared a gushing statement about him shortly after the news broke, which said: “It is with broken hearts and the deepest sadness that we must share the terrible news that on Tuesday our friend, soul brother and band mate of over 45 years, Neil, has lost his incredibly brave three and a half year battle with brain cancer (Glioblastoma). We ask that friends, fans, and media alike understandably respect the family’s need for privacy and peace at this extremely painful and difficult time.

“Those wishing to express condolences can choose a cancer research group or charity of their choice and make a donation in Neil’s name.

“Rest in peace brother.”

Neil is survived by his wife Carrie and daughter Olivia.

Neil joined Rush in 1974 and over the years received numerous awards for his performances – including being inducted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 1983, making him the youngest ever to be honoured.

He announced he was retiring from the band in 2015 in order to spend more time with his family and, later that year, he played the drums for the group’s final show at the Forum in Los Angeles.

However, his bandmate Geddy Lee insisted shortly afterwards that Neil was “simply taking a break” and hadn’t quit the band for good.

But in January 2018, bandmate Alex Lifeson confirmed that Rush was retiring due to Neil’s health issues, which weren’t disclosed at the time.