Neil Young

9 Feb 2024

Neil Young

Neil Percival Young, born on November 12, 1945, is a renowned Canadian-American singer-songwriter with a prolific career spanning several decades. Young initially began his music journey in Winnipeg during the 1960s before relocating to Los Angeles, where he became a member of the folk-rock band Buffalo Springfield.

Throughout his solo career, often accompanied by the band Crazy Horse, Young has released numerous critically acclaimed albums. Some of his most notable works include "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere" (1969), "After the Gold Rush" (1970), "Harvest" (1972), "On the Beach" (1974), and "Rust Never Sleeps" (1979). Additionally, Young collaborated with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, contributing to the success of their chart-topping 1970 album "Déjà Vu".

Young's music is characterized by his distinctive guitar work, deeply personal lyrics, and unique high tenor singing voice. He is also proficient in playing piano and harmonica, often blending folk, rock, country, and other genres in his compositions. His electric guitar playing, particularly with Crazy Horse, earned him the moniker "Godfather of Grunge". In 1995, Young collaborated with Pearl Jam on the album "Mirror Ball".

Beyond his music career, Young has directed several films under the pseudonym "Bernard Shakey", including "Journey Through the Past" (1973), "Rust Never Sleeps" (1979), "Human Highway" (1982), "Greendale" (2003), "CSNY/Déjà Vu" (2008), and "Harvest Time" (2022). He has also contributed to the soundtracks of films like "Philadelphia" (1993) and "Dead Man" (1995).

Young has been honored with numerous awards, including Grammy and Juno Awards. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice: first as a solo artist in 1995, and then as a member of Buffalo Springfield in 1997. Rolling Stone recognized him as one of the greatest guitarists of all time, ranking him at No. 30 on their list in 2023. Additionally, 21 of his albums and singles have received Gold and Platinum certifications in the United States by the RIAA.

In recognition of his contributions to music and culture, Young was awarded the Order of Manitoba in 2006 and appointed as an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2009. His legacy continues to resonate deeply within the music industry and among fans worldwide.

Neil Young, born on November 12, 1945, in Toronto, Canada, was raised in a family with a background in journalism and writing. His father, Scott Alexander Young, was a journalist and author, while his mother, Edna Blow Ragland "Rassy" Young, was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, with American and French ancestry.

Young's early years were marked by challenges, including contracting polio during a major outbreak in Ontario in 1951, which left him partially paralyzed on his left side. Despite this setback, Young's family sought warmer climates for his recovery, spending time in Florida before returning to Canada.

Young's interest in music blossomed during his childhood, influenced by a wide range of genres including rock 'n roll, rockabilly, R&B, country, and pop. He admired artists like Elvis Presley, Link Wray, Chuck Berry, and Johnny Cash, among others. Young's musical journey began with a plastic ukulele before progressing to other string instruments.

In the midst of his musical exploration, Young's family underwent significant changes, with his parents divorcing when he was twelve years old. He moved with his mother to Winnipeg, while his brother remained with their father in Toronto. Despite these upheavals, Young's passion for music continued to grow, eventually leading him to pursue a career in the industry.
Young's early experiences and diverse musical influences laid the foundation for his iconic career as a singer-songwriter, guitarist, and performer, shaping his distinctive style and sound that would resonate with audiences around the world.

Neil Young's musical journey took shape during his formative years in Winnipeg, Canada. He attended Earl Grey Junior High School, where he formed his first band, the Jades, and later attended Kelvin High School. It was during this time that Young delved into the local music scene, playing in various bands and developing his musical skills.

One of Young's early bands, the Squires, gained popularity in Winnipeg with their local hit "The Sultan." They performed extensively across Manitoba, playing at venues ranging from community centers to clubs. During this period, Young honed his craft as a guitarist and songwriter, laying the groundwork for his future musical endeavors.

Young's encounters with other musicians, such as Stephen Stills and Joni Mitchell, further enriched his musical experiences. He was influenced by artists like Bob Dylan and Phil Ochs, whose folk music resonated deeply with him. Young's songwriting flourished during this time, with compositions like "Sugar Mountain" capturing themes of youth and nostalgia.
In 1965, Young embarked on a solo tour across Canada, showcasing his talents as a singer-songwriter. The following year, he joined the Mynah Birds, a band fronted by Rick James. Although the group secured a record deal with Motown, their plans were derailed when James was arrested.

Undeterred, Young and bass player Bruce Palmer decided to venture to Los Angeles, selling the band's equipment to fund their journey. Young's move to the United States marked a pivotal moment in his career, leading to collaborations, new opportunities, and eventual success in the music industry.

Despite facing legal hurdles, Young's determination and passion for music propelled him forward. His experiences in Winnipeg and beyond laid the groundwork for his iconic career, characterized by his distinctive voice, heartfelt lyrics, and enduring musical legacy.


  1.  "Governor General Announces 57 New Appointments to the Order of Canada". Office of the Secretary to the Governor General. December 30, 2009. Retrieved December 30, 2009.
  2. a b "Lieutenant Governor's Awards". Lieutenant Governors Office of Manitoba. 2009. Archived from the original on May 8, 2006. Retrieved January 26, 2010.
  3. ^ Henderson, Cydney. "Canadian rocker Neil Young is officially a U.S. citizen: 'I'm proud to be a Canarican'"USA TODAY. Retrieved March 10, 2023.
  4. a b "Neil Young's Passionate Guitar Playing Sparks Rock Arena". Los Angeles Daily News. September 14, 1993.
  5. ^ Brinn, David (May 30, 2006). "Disc Reviews"The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved July 28, 2009.
  6. ^ Surkamp, David (September 15, 1992). "Internal Fire from Neil Young Lights the Stage". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. p. 4D.
  7. ^ Miller, Edward (2003). "The Nonsensical Truth of the Falsetto Voice: Listening to Sigur Rós"Popular Musicology OnlineISSN 1357-0951. Archived from the original on July 16, 2012. Retrieved May 26, 2010.
  8. ^ Sinclair, Scott (April 4, 2009). "Neil Young – Fork in the Road"Popular Musicology Online. Archived from the original on April 5, 2009. Retrieved May 26, 2010.
  9. ^ Echard 2005, p. 43.

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