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From a young age Young developed a love for music hearing a wide variety of genres of on the radio, with rockabilly, doo wop, R&B, pop and country ruling the air waves. Later picking up his first instrument, the ukulele, Young’s musical journey had only just begun. Once enrolled in high school, he joined a few varying genre bands eventually progressing on to the guitar inspired by the likes of Elvis, Chuck Berry, Roy Orbison and Little Richard.
After leaving high school Young would play solo in coffeehouses and folk clubs where he would meet like-minded musicians. Briefly joining the band Mynah Birds in 1966, once the band had split him and bass player Bruce Palmer moved to Los Angeles, US seeking fame and fortune. It was here that together they formed the band Buffalo Springfield fusing psychedelia, rock, folk and country. In their two year duration the band released three studio albums.
Once Buffalo Springfield had disbanded, Young signed a solo deal with Reprise Records in 1968 sharing the same management as his friend Joni Mitchell. Later that year he released his debut self-titled album and although receiving mixed reviews from the critics for the heavy handed production, the album featured some musical gems such as “The Loner” and “I’ve Been Waiting for You” which still remains a staple in his live sets.
For his follow up album, Young sought the help of musicians Danny Whitten (guitar), Billy Talbot (bass) and Ralph Molina (drums) who would later become known as Crazy Horse. 1969 came the release of “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere” credited as Neil Young with Crazy Horse. The album featured the hit singles “Cinnamon Girl”, “Down by the River” and “Cowgirl in the Sand”.
Young spent the majority of the early 70’s releasing music and touring with Crazy Horse. In 1972 tragedy struck when Whitten passed away from an overdose, taking time out to grieve the band resumed several months later with Young as a fleeting member. The death of Whitten and his roadie Bruce Berry the following year, had a huge impact on Young as he found himself in a very dark place aptly reflected in the 1975 album “Tonight’s the Night”.
The 80’s led to an experimental side of Young as personal battles consumed his mind as he deviated through stylistic variants apparent in the albums “Old Ways” (1985), “Landing on Water” (1986) and “Life” (1987). Back to business in 1989 Young produced the hit single “Rockin’ in the Free World” which peaked at number two, the album which preceded “Freedom” saw Young back in the mainstream on top form.
Young kicked off the 90’s as he returned to the heavy distortion sounds with the album “Ragged Glory” released in 1990 and swiftly followed by a nationwide tour with punk band Social Distortion and Sonic Youth which saw the return of many old school fans. As the subsequent years passed by Young became more actively involved in political issues surrounding war and injustice as he began using his music as an avenue for social commentary. With the US’s involvement with the Iraq war, Young produced songs such as “Let’s Impeach the President” and the 2006 album “Living With War” demonstrating his defiance and opposition to the country’s involvement.
Through his prolific career, Young has created a legacy which will last a lifetime and an impressive back catalogue spanning over six decades more than justifying his well-deserved position in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.