Neil Percival Young, (born November 12, 1945) is a Canadian singer-songwriter, musician, film director and activist. Young began performing as a solo artist in Canada in 1960. He then migrated to California in 1966, as part of Buffalo Springfield and established himself as the tentative fourth member of Crosby, Stills & Nash. Due to Young's relationship with all band members diminishing to being too acrimonious for them to cooperate, he left both and forged a solo career, to success and critical acclaim. He has since become "one of the most respected and influential musicians of his generation". This distinctly derives in part from the longevity of his career, which has spanned for more than 40 years, with a continually challenging exploration of new musical ideas. Young has recorded 33 studio albums, the most recent of which was Fork in the Road (2009).
Young's work is characterized by his deeply personal lyrics, distinctive guitar work, and signature tenor singing voice. Although he accompanies himself on several different instruments, including piano and harmonica, his clawhammer acoustic guitar style and often idiosyncratic electric guitar soloing are the defining characteristics of a sometimes ragged, sometimes melodic sound. Although Young has experimented widely with differing music styles, including swing, jazz, rockabilly, blues, and electronic music throughout a varied career, his best known work usually falls into either of two distinct styles: acoustic folk and country rock ("Heart of Gold", "Harvest Moon" and "Old Man") and electric-charged hard rock (like "Cinnamon Girl", "Rockin' in the Free World" and "Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)"), in collaboration with the band Crazy Horse. In recent years, Young has adopted elements from newer styles such as alternative rock and grunge. His profound influence on the latter caused some to dub him "the Godfather of Grunge". Young has been an undeniably important artist; The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame website begins their article on Young stating him to be "one of rock and roll’s greatest songwriters and performers". He was inducted into the Hall of Fame twice; first as a solo artist in 1995 and secondly as a member of Buffalo Springfield in 1997. Young has been nominated for multiple Grammy Awards and has won once.
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: Zeke (born during his relationship with actress Carrie Snodgress), Ben and Amber Jean (born to his wife Pegi). Zeke and Ben were diagnosed with cerebral palsy, and Amber Jean, like Young himself, with epilepsy.
Young lives on his ranch in La Honda, California. Although Young 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 retains Canadian citizenship, which he has never wanted to relinquish. On July 14, 2006, Young was awarded the Order of Manitoba. On December 30, 2009, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.
Young's most recent album appearance was on the album Potato Hole, released on April 21, 2009 by Memphis organ player Booker T. Jones, of Booker T. & the MG's fame. Young plays guitar on nine of the album's ten instrumental tracks, alongside Drive-By Truckers, who already had three guitar players, giving some songs on the album a total of five guitar tracks. Jones contributed guitars on a couple of tracks.
Young continues to tour extensively. Most recently, he headlined the 2009 Glastonbury Festival in Pilton, England, at Hard Rock Calling in London (where he was joined onstage by Paul McCartney for a rendition of "A Day in the Life") and, after years of unsuccessful booking attempts, the Isle of Wight Festival in addition to performances at the Big Day Out festival in New Zealand and Australia and the Primavera Sound Festival in Barcelona. On January 22, 2010, Young performed "Long May You Run" on the final episode of The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien. On the same night, he and Dave Matthews performed the Hank Williams song "Alone and Forsaken", for the Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief charity telethon, in response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Young performed "Long May You Run" at the closing ceremony of the 2010 Olympic winter games in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Young currently lives in La Honda, California on the 1500-acre Broken Arrow Ranch, purchased in 1970 for $350,000 and named after one of his early Buffalo Springfield songs.