Neil Young (born Neil Percival Young, 12.11.1945)
Neil Young is a Canadian, internationally-renowned singer and songwriter who rose to fame in the 1960s as part of the groups Buffalo Springfield and Crosby Stills Nash & Young.
Neil Young: Biography
Neil Young was born in Toronto. His father, Scott Young was a novelist and sportswriter. His mother, Edna Ragland (Rassy) was also an aspiring sports journalist.
Neil Young walks with a slight limp, as a result of having polio as a child. When he was 12, his parents divorced and he moved with his mother to Winnipeg. It was here that he formed his first band, The Jades. He later met Ken Koblun, who encouraged him to join The Squires. The Squires had a hit, locally, entitled 'The Sultan'. Whilst they were in Thunder Bay, Neil Young met Stephen Stills and Randy Bachman for the first time.
Young wrote some of his early folk tracks after leaving The Squires, such as 'Sugar Mountain'. Joni Mitchell wrote 'The Circle Game' as a response to the track.
In 1966, Young joined the Mynah Birds, fronted by Rick James. They signed to Motown briefly, before James was arrested for being AWOL for the US Army.
Neil Young: Buffalo Springfield
In Los Angeles, Neil Young formed Buffalo Springfield with Stephen Stills, Bruce Palmer, Richie Furay and Dewey Martin. Their mix of psychedelia, folk and country led to them becoming very popular, especially after the release of 'For What It's Worth'.
Neil Young: Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young / Solo Career
When Buffalo Springfield disbanded, Neil Young signed a solo deal with Reprise Records, sharing his manager, Elliot Roberts, with Joni Mitchell. Young's eponymous debut album was released in 1968, to mixed reviews.
For his second album, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, Young recruited Ralph Molina, Danny Whitten and Billy Talbot to be his backing band. The band took on the name Crazy Horse. The album featured the iconic songs 'Cinnamon Girl' and 'Down by the River'.
Following the release of the album, Neil Young re-joined Stephen Stills, as well as David Crosby and Graham Nash, who had already recorded as a trio. The quartet performed at 1969's Woodstock festival. They recorded an album, Déjà Vu, but Young and Stills fought for control and argued often. They wrote the song 'Ohio' following the Kent State massacre in May 1970.
1970 also saw Neil Young release his third solo album, After the Gold Rush, featuring Nils Lofgren. Crazy Horse left the Neil Young stable and landed their own record deal, so Young recruited a new group of session musicians, called The Stray Gators.
His next album, Harvest was a global hit, with 'Heart of Gold' becoming his first US number one single. 'The Needle and the Damage Done', an account of the damage of heroin use, is another popular song from Harvest.
Time Fades Away was written after Danny Whitten's death from a heroin overdose. He toured the album with Linda Ronstadt as the opener. This was followed by the highly acclaimed Tonight's The Night and On the Beach.
Neil Young's next acoustic album was Homegrown, a highly personal album that reflected on his break-up from Carrie Snodgress.
For Zuma, Young was reunited with Crazy Horse, with Frank Sampedro on guitar. The album featured 'Cortez the Killer'
In 1976, Neil Young starred in The Last Waltz, the concert footage produced by Martin Scorsese. The concert also featured The Band, Eric Clapton and Van Morrison.
The song 'Like A Hurricane' was one of the most popular songs from Young's 1977 album American Stars 'N Bars. The following year, he released Comes A Time, featuring Nicolette Larson and Crazy Horse.
The 'Rust Never Sleeps' tour was recorded and released in audio and video format as Live Rust. The Album Rust Never Sleeps was Rolling Stone magazine's Album of the Year in 1979.
Though Neil Young's influence never waned during the 1980s, his own career wavered somewhat as he experimented with synthesizers, vocoders and electronic music. It took many years for Re-ac-tor and Trans to be recognized with any degree of acclaim. The release of Trans, coupled with an album of rockabilly covers entitled Everybody's Rockin' caused David Geffen (the head of Young's record label at the time) to sue Neil Young for making music that was 'unrepresentative' of himself.
It wasn't until 1989 with the release of 'Rockin in the Free World' (taken from the album Freedom) that Young's career began to hit its stride once more. An album released the same year highlighted Young's influence over younger musicians, especially in the emerging grunge scene. The Bridge: A Tribute To Neil Young featured covers of his music performed by Dinosaur Jr., Nick Cave, The Pixies and Sonic Youth. Kurt Cobain of Nirvana was also vocal in appreciation of Young's music. In 1990, Young toured his Ragged Glory with the punk bands Social Distortion and Sonic Youth in support. A later album, Sleeps With Angels was inspired by the death of Cobain. Then, in 1995, Young recorded the album Mirror Ball with Pearl Jam.
Young returned to country and folk with 1992's Harvest Moon, which featured Linda Ronstadt and James Taylor. In 1995, following the death of Young's longtime producer, David Briggs, Young and Crazy Horse reconvened and recorded Broken Arrow. Jim Jarmusch directed the accompanying film, Year of the Horse.
2000 onwards has seen Neil Young's music career go through peaks and troughs. In 2005, he was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm whilst he worked on his Prairie Wind album.
In 2006, Young released an overtly political album criticizing George W. Bush. The album was entitled Living With War and featured the track 'Let's Impeach the President'.