Neil Young is a Canadian singer-songwriter. He is easily recognizably for his distinct tenor voice, making him a near-polar opposite of his Canadian folk contemporary, the baritone Leonard Cohen, although they both share a dense and idiosyncratic sense of lyricism.
Young has released an album almost every year since 1969 with his eponymous debut album and most recently The Visitor, released in 2017. In between, he’s done collaborative albums with Pearl Jam and Crazy Horse (later being dubbed “The Godfather of Grunge”), brought his profound lyricism to the Simon and Garfunkel-esque harmonies of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, who, according to legend, he performed with at Woodstock, and even did autotune way before Kanye.
Young is one of the few people to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, once as himself and once with his psychedelic rock band Buffalo Springfield which he co-founded in 1966 along with Stephen Stills and Richie Furay after illegally emigrating to Los Angeles.
Despite all this, Young’s career has not been without controversy. He was infamously dissed by Lynard Skynard in their song “Sweet Home Alabama” and had a song whose music video was banned from MTV after making fun of the whole Michael Jackson-Pepsi incident, but later won the VMAs Best Video of the Year. The video was also nominated for Best Concept Video as well, but ironically lost to another Michael Jackson parody, Weird Al Yankovic’s “Fat”. He joined the long guest list of the seminal concert film The Last Waltz alongside artists such as Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr and Dr. John. The documentary of The Band’s last performance, directed by Martin Scorcese, was delayed in post-production when Scorcese was put up to the task of rotoscoping out a lump of cocaine visibly hanging out of Young’s nose.
Though many of his songs are deeply personal, he also has many songs that have are classics in the folk protest canon like “Ohio” and “Let’s Impeach the President”. He is also known for his charity work, having started the annual benefit concert for American farmers, Farm Aid with John Mellencamp and Willie Nelson.
While Neil Young was accidentally proclaimed dead by NBC News in 2012, he had an actual near-death experience when he suffered a brain aneurysm and collapsed on a sidewalk in 2000. He did survive after undergoing a minimally invasive neuroradiology surgery, but since he has stopped taking drugs.
Young has also ventured into film, having directed multiple films under the guise of “Bernard Shakey”, and was nominated for an Academy Award for an original song written for the movie Philidelphia, and has worked with renowned members of the film industry such as Russ Tamblyn, Martin Scorcese, Dennis Hopper, Jim Jarmusch and Jonathan Demme.
Young has had two wives, two long-term partners, three children (two with cereberal palsy, and one with epilepsy), as well as being a proud owner of a 1959 Lincoln Continental, which he converted to an electric car and dubbed the LincVolt.