Living or dead? That's usually the first question a player will ask the host. Without any regard for mortality, here's one person who'd automatically make my fantasy dinner invitation list....
|2008 image, Wikipedia|
As a drummer of the Rock n' Roll genre; IMO, Mr. Peart has few peers....living or dead.
I'd count most of those Rock drummers on one hand: Stuart Copeland (The Police), John Bonham (Led Zeppelin), Phil Collins (early Genesis), Mitch Mitchell (Jimi Hendrix Experience) and Jimmy Chamberlin (Smashing Pumpkins). If I had a sixth finger on that hand; I'd quickly add Danny Carey (Tool).
However, even if he hadn't been what Rush bandmate Geddy Lee called "such a f***ing monster musician", Mr. Peart still would've made my dinner list because of the way he conducted himself and how profoundly and clearly he expressed his views on topics through his lyrics, books and media interviews. His self-discipline, keen observation and commitment to excellence have long inspired me.
He often struggled with fame and fan intrusiveness. The Rush song called Limelight includes revealing Peart lyrics,
"I have no heart to lie, I cannot pretend a stranger is a long awaited friend" and later, "Cast in this unlikely role, ill-equipped to act, with insufficient tact. One must put up barriers to keep oneself intact."
I've read (and this is a 5/18/2021 update to my original post) his 2002 narrative: Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road which I can recommend.
The book is a deeply personal and honest account of his own healing journey and battles with grief stemming from the aforementioned loss of his loved ones. It's also a richly annotated travel tome from his 55,000 mile motorcycle trip across North America.
I also recently finished reading his last book, Far and Wide: Bring That Horizon to Me! (2016) which I enjoyed even more than Ghost Rider.