Neil Young bows out of Farm Aid benefit concert over COVID-19 concerns

Canadian folk singer Neil Young announced that he is withdrawing from the Farm Aid benefit concert, scheduled for Sept. 25, due to concerns about COVID-19.

'I don't want you to see me playing and think it's safe now,' musician explains on website

Neil Young performs at a California music festival on May 25, 2019. On Thursday, the folk singer shared that he is bowing out of the Farm Aid concert on Sept. 25 due to concerns about COVID-19. (Amy Harris/Invision/The Associated Press)

Neil Young is backing out of next month's Farm Aid festival in Hartford, Conn., over COVID-19 concerns.

The Canadian folk singer shared a message on his website explaining his decision to withdraw from the annual benefit concert to support U.S. farmers.

Young wrote he feels it would be wrong to risk people dying — or spreading COVID-19 to unvaccinated children — by attending the concert.

"All you people who can't go to a concert because you still don't feel safe, I stand with you," Young wrote. "I don't want you to see me playing and think it's safe now. I don't want to play until you feel safe, and it is indeed, safe."

The Omemee, Ont.-raised musician was slated to take the stage alongside Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews at the Sept. 25 festival. He wrote that he still respects their decision to proceed with the sold-out performance.

Performers cutting tours short due to Delta variant

Young is just the latest headliner to step down from the stage as the Delta variant drives up COVID-19 case counts. Both musicians Stevie Nicks and Garth Brooks cut their tours short this month over similar concerns.

"My soul tells me it would be wrong to risk having anyone die because they wanted to hear music and be with friends," Young wrote about his decision.

"No matter where you are. I am with you. Do what you must, but think it through. We will be back. There is much work to do together."

Young co-founded the Farm Aid festival with Nelson and Mellencamp in 1985. The benefit grew into an annual event that takes place in a different state each summer.

However, Young noted that his opinion on moving forward with this year's concert is quite different than his longtime friends.

"While I respect Willie, John and Dave's decisions to stick with it and play, I am not of the same mind," he added.

"It is a tough call."


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