(Neil Young and the Crazy Horse in Oslo this year. Photo: REUTERS/Fredrik Varfjell/NTB Scanpix)
Last week, we celebrated the 70th birthday of Joni Mitchell, and today, it's the birthday of another legendary Canadian musician: Neil Young.
Like Mitchell, Young's music has had a profound influence on the generations of artists that followed him, from grunge bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam to Wilco and The Constantines, the Guelph, Ontario band that used to get together under the name Horsey Craze to cover his songs. Also like Joni, Neil's one of a small handful of Canadian musicians known to fans by first name alone.
Neil Percival Young was born today in Toronto in 1945 to a sportswriter and a Daughter of the American Revolution. His family soon moved to rural Omemee, Ontario, where, again like Mitchell, he was struck by one of the country's last polio outbreaks at age five. Like many boys his age, he grew up idolizing Elvis Presley, and he formed his first band — The Jades — at the age of 14 while living with his mother in Winnipeg.
The first hit he penned, "Flying on the Ground is Wrong," came out in 1967 — although it was recorded by The Guess Who. Neil's turn would come soon enough: after crossing the border and heading to Los Angeles, he joined up with Stephen Stills, Richie Furay and Dewey Martin to form Buffalo Springfield. The rest — and there's a lot more, from Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young to Crazy Horse to his long solo career — has achieved the status of legend for his many fans. Indeed, Neil has the rare distinction of having been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice: as a solo artist in 1995 and as a member of Buffalo Springfield in 1997.
Last year, we got some of his family and famous fans together for this look at five different sides of Neil: The Musician, The Filmmaker, The Sh*t Disturber, The Humanitarian, and The Activist:
Those sides of Neil are very much still around: we got a look at The Sh*t Disturber and The Activist back in September when he called Ft. McMurray a "wasteland" — and got banned by a local radio station.