Through his work with Dream Theater, Adrenaline Mob, the Winery Dogs and other projects, drummer Mike Portnoy has inspired countless younger players. Naturally, he had inspirations of his own as a teen — and as he tells Ultimate Classic Rock in an exclusive interview, the biggest one was Rush.

"I can't possibly overstate how much influence Rush had on me as a young teenager," says Portnoy in our video chat, which you can watch above. "I would say from about 1981 to 1987, they were my gods. Neil Peart was my god at that point, and was a huge, huge influence on my drumming."

As fans are aware, Portnoy made his own Peart-sized mark on Modern Drummer's Hall of Fame, eventually becoming the second-youngest player to earn induction after the Rush co-founder. It was a poetically fitting honor, considering how heavily Peart's presence could be felt in the way Portnoy learned how to play.

"The size of the drum set, the way I approached the drums, the odd time signatures, the progressive-styled instrumental music — I mean, just everything about Rush at that point, when I was a developing teenager, was huge," he adds. "I've seen them on every tour since then."

For more of Mike Portnoy's thoughts about growing up with Rush — including which of the band's tours was the first he attended — watch the video above.

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