Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series, where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore music from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!
Neil was born in Toronto but moved to Winnipeg as a teenager when his parents divorced. His mother was a panelist on a Canadian quiz show and his father was a sports writer for the Toronto Sun.
In 1982, Geffen Records signed Young and gave him complete creative control. Young made some experimental albums that flopped, and Geffen sued him, claiming he was intentionally making commercially unsuccessful albums. He settled the suit and went back to his old label, Reprise, in 1988.
He formed the influential band Buffalo Springfield with Stephen Stills in 1966. When Buffalo Springfield was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1997, Young boycotted the presentation because he felt the event was too commercial. Seats at the dinner cost $1,200 each.
He worked as a solo artist while touring and recording with Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young.
In 1979, he released a concert movie called Rust Never Sleeps. Young directed it using the name Bernard Shakey.
New York magazine The Village Voice named him ’70s Artist Of The Decade.
At age 5, he contracted polio. The disease damaged the left side of his body and may have contributed to seizures he would experience for years to come.
When he formed his first band, The Squires, and traveled to gigs, they did so in Neil’s hearse, which he named Mortimer. He loved that hearse.
His son Ben was born with cerebral palsy, as was his second son Zeke (born with a milder case). This led Neil’s involvement with The Bridge School, which serves special-needs children. Neil holds a benefit concert for the school every year.
Young is the first artist to record two MTV Unpluggeds. He was so upset about the quality of the first one he showed up again three months later to record another one. R.E.M. also recorded two.
Young has indulged in marijuana and cocaine, but very rarely. In the movie The Last Waltz, you can see a huge ball of coke in Neil’s nose; for the 2002 theatrical and DVD release, MGM digitally erased the ball. Young has never touched heroin or acid, and has never been in rehab.
He is a part owner of the Lionel train company. And holds patents on model railroad controls he uses with his son Ben.
One of his first bands was The Mynah Birds, which featured Rick James on lead vocals. They signed with Motown, but the deal (and the band) fell apart when James was busted for dodging the draft.
In 1995, Pearl Jam recorded an album with Young called Mirror Ball. Because of record company restrictions, the name Pearl Jam could not appear anywhere on the album, but each member is named individually.
A 17-year-old Neil Young made his stage debut at a country club in Winnipeg, Canada on January 31, 1963.
Neil Young’s father Scott was a journalist and sportswriter who worked for a Toronto news agency during the 1940s, and was later a star columnist at Canada’s most prestigious daily, The Globe and Mail. Neil wrote of his dad in his 2012 memoir Waging Heavy Peace, “It turns out he taught me everything I need to know. He said ‘Just write every day, and you’ll be surprised what comes out.'”
Neil Young has been married three times. He wed his first wife, restaurant owner Susan Acevedo, in December 1968 and they had a son, Zeke, together. She filed for divorce in October 1970.
Young met Pegi Morton in 1974 while she was working as a waitress at the Bella Vista restaurant in Woodside, California near Young’s ranch, a story he tells in the Harvest Moon song “Unknown Legend.” They married in 1978 and have two children together, Ben and Amber. Young filed for divorce in 2014 after 36 years of marriage.
Young has been in a relationship with the actress Daryl Hannah since 2014. They tied the knot in a low-key wedding in Atascadero, California on August 25, 2018, surrounded by close friends and loved ones.
Both Ben and Zeke are diagnosed with cerebral palsy, which inspired Neil and Pegi to start a non-profit called the Bridge School.
Neil Young has lived in California since 1966; he was finally given US citizenship 54 years later after taking the oath on January 22, 2020. Young applied for citizenship in November 2019, but didn’t get it right away because he admitted using marijuana. The “Rockin’ In The Free World” singer said his application was flagged under an immigration policy alert that uses drug use as a barometer for “good moral character.”
Young had a good career with his solo disc, but he shined best with the Buffalo Springfield. Although he and Stills didn’t gel as buddies, they could play the best counterpoint guitar riffs in rock history. A band ahead of its time that burned out and left us hanging.
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