Neil Percival Young OC, OM (born November 12, 1945) is a Canadian singer-songwriter. He began performing in a group covering Shadows instrumentals in Canada in 1960, before moving to California in 1966, where he co-founded the band Buffalo Springfield along with Stephen Stills and Richie Furay, later joining Crosby, Stills & Nash as a fourth member in 1969. He forged a successful and acclaimed solo career, releasing his first album in 1968; his career has since spanned over 40 years and 35 studio albums, with a continual and uncompromising exploration of musical styles.The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame website describes Young as “one of rock and roll’s greatest songwriters and performers”. He has been inducted into the Hall of Fame twice: first as a solo artist in 1995, and second as a member of Buffalo Springfield in 1997.
Young’s work is characterized by his distinctive guitar work, deeply personal lyrics and signature alto or high tenor singing voice. Although he accompanies himself on several different instruments, including piano and harmonica, his idiosyncratic electric and clawhammer acoustic guitar playing are the defining characteristics of a varyingly ragged and melodic sound. While Young has experimented with differing music styles, including swing and electronic music throughout a varied career, his best known work usually falls into two primary styles: acoustic (folk and country rock) and electric (amplified hard rock, very often in collaboration with the band Crazy Horse). Young has also adopted elements from newer styles such as alternative rock and grunge. His influence on the latter caused some to dub him the “Godfather of Grunge”.
Young has directed (or co-directed) a number of films using the pseudonym Bernard Shakey, including Journey Through the Past (1973), Rust Never Sleeps (1979), Human Highway (1982), Greendale (2003), and CSNY/Déjà Vu (2008). He is currently working on a documentary about electric car technology, tentatively titled Linc/Volt. The project involves a 1959 Lincoln Continental converted to hybrid technology, which Young plans to drive to Washington, D.C. as an environmentalist example to lawmakers there.
Young is an outspoken advocate for environmental issues and the welfare of small farmers, having co-founded in 1985 the benefit concert Farm Aid. In 1986, Young helped found The Bridge School, an educational organization for children with severe verbal and physical disabilities, and its annual supporting Bridge School Benefit concerts, together with his wife Pegi Young (née Morton). Young has three children: sons Zeke (born during his relationship with actress Carrie Snodgress) and Ben, who were diagnosed with cerebral palsy, and daughter Amber Jean who, like Young himself, has epilepsy. Young lives on his ranch in La Honda, California. Although he has lived in northern California since the 1970s and sings as frequently about U.S. themes and subjects as he does about his native country, he has retained his Canadian citizenship. On July 14, 2006, Young was awarded the Order of Manitoba, and on December 30, 2009, was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. Neil Percival Young was born in Toronto, Canada on 12 November 1945. His father, Scott Alexander Young (1918–2005), was a journalist and sportswriter who would later rise to prominence in Canada for his work.19 His mother, Edna Blow Ragland “Rassy” Young (1918–1990), was of American, French, and Scottish ancestry, and a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution.20 They married in 1940 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, with their first son, Robert ‘Bob’ Young, being born in 1942.
Shortly after Neil’s birth in 1945, the family decided to move to the rural town of Omemee, Ontario, which Neil would later fondly describe as a “sleepy little place”. Omemee later established the Youngtown Museum in tribute to Young. Young was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as a child, and also suffered from a bout of polio in 1951, in what was the last major outbreak of the disease in Ontario.This was in fact the same epidemic in which singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell, then aged nine, also contracted the virus.
Following his recovery, the Young family went on holiday to Florida in the United States in 1952, and upon returning to Canada soon decided to move away from Omemee and into the city of Toronto, before relocating to Pickering, which is just east of Toronto, and then again to north Toronto soon afterward. It was during this period that Young began to take an interest in popular music that he heard on the radio, and also began to rear chickens in order to sell their eggs.
When Neil was twelve, his father, who had been having a number of extra-marital affairs, left his mother, and she subsequently asked for, and received, a divorce some years later, in 1960. Due to the breakup of the family, Neil went to live with his mother, who moved back to Winnipeg, Manitoba, while his brother Bob stayed with his father in Toronto. When Young moved to Manitoba, his musical drive really kicked in.