Rufus Wainwright

Rufus Wainwright (born 22 July 1973) is a Canadian-American singer-songwriter.

Biography

Wainwright was born in Rhinebeck, New York to folk singers Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle (they later divorced while he was a child). He began to play the piano at age six, and by age thirteen he was touring with his sister Martha, mother Kate (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kate_McGarrigle), and aunt Anna as the "McGarrigle Sisters and Family." His song "I'm Running," which he performed in the movie Tommy Tricker and the Stamp Traveller, was nominated for the 1989 Genie Award for Best Original Song and earned him a nomination for the 1990 Juno Award for Most Promising Male Vocalist.

Despite being born in the United States, Wainwright strongly identifies with Canada and still maintains a residence there. He lived in Montreal with his mother for most of his childhood and briefly attended McGill University, where he studied both classical and 'rock' piano. Additionally, some of his songs feature his mastery of French.

Coming out as a homosexual while still a teen, Wainwright found solace through opera throughout his adolescent years (His track Barcelona features lyrics of Guiseppi Verdi). He also became an enthusiast of such performers as Edith Piaf, Al Jolson and Judy Garland.

After having been a fixture on the Montreal club circuit, Wainwright cut a series of demo tapes, one of which found itself in the hands of DreamWorks executive Lenny Waronker. The label signed him and he relased an album in the spring of 1998. This album landed much critical acclaim in Canada, and was even recognized by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the best albums of the year. Wainwright's sophomore album, Poses (2001), brought similar acclaim.

Wainwright's first main exposure to the American public came as an opener to singer Tori Amos in 2001 and 2002. He garnered great praise for his performance and began touring as a main act shortly afterwards. He has frequently toured as the opener for Sting and co-headlined with Ben Folds and Guster in the summer of 2004. He still often performs with his sister Martha Wainwright (now herself an emerging artist) on backup vocals.

In addition to being a pianist, Wainwright is a guitarist, often switching between the two instruments when performing live; however, his mastery of the guitar does not approach his talent with the piano. While some of his most moving songs feature just Wainwright with his piano, many of his songs display complex layering and harmonies, occasionally comprising hundreds of individual parts. Wainwright is an avid opera fan, and the influences on his music are evident; his music has been described as "Popera" (Pop Opera) or "Baroque Pop." His lyrics are filled with allusions to opera, literature, pop culture, and, more recently, politics (in songs such as "Gay Messiah" and "Waiting for a Dream").

Rufus Wainwright playing in London in 2004. By Matt Whitby

Wainwright's newest album, Want Two, of which four songs were released as the EP Waiting for a Want, was released from DreamWorks/Geffen on November 16, 2004. It is a companion to the 2003 release Want One. His latest, a live iTunes Sessions EP entitled Alright Already is due for release in March 2005. He made his motion picture debut in The Aviator and will also appear in the upcoming film, Heights.

Discography

Albums

  • Rufus Wainwright (1998, DreamWorks)
  • Poses (2001, DreamWorks)
  • Want One (2003, DreamWorks)
  • Waiting for a Want (EP; 2004, DreamWorks) - available only on iTunes
  • Want Two (2004, DreamWorks/Geffen)
  • Alright Already (EP; 2005, DreamWorks/Geffen) - available only on iTunes

Contributions

  • "I'm Running" - Soundtrack to the Motion Picture Tommy Tricker and the Stamp Traveller (1989)
  • "Le Roi D'Ys" and "On the Banks of the Wabash" - Soundtrack to the Motion Picture The Myth of Fingerprints (1997)
  • "Shooldays", "What'll I Do?", "Heartburn", "Talk to Me of Mendocino", "Goodnight Sweetheart" and background vocals on various other tracks. - The McGarrigle Hour (1998)
  • "Instant Pleasure" - Soundtrack to the Motion Picture Big Daddy (1999, Sony)
  • "Complainte de la Butte" - Soundtrack to the Motion Picture Moulin Rouge! (2001, Interscope)
  • "Hallelujah" - Soundtrack to the Motion Picture Shrek (2001, Dreamworks)
  • "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" - Soundtrack to the Motion Picture Zoolander (2001, Hollywood Records)
  • "Across the Universe" - Soundtrack to the Motion Picture I Am Sam (2002, V2/BMG)
  • "When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes" - When Love Speaks (2002, EMI Classics)
  • "It's Only a Paper Moon" and "I Wonder What Became of Me" - Stormy Weather: The Music of Harold Arlen (2003, Sony)
  • "I Eat Dinner" (with Dido) - Soundtrack to the Motion Picture Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004, Geffen Records)
  • "I'll Build A Stairway To Paradise" - Soundtrack to the Motion Picture The Aviator (2004, Sony)

Awards and nominations

Juno Awards:

  • 1990 - Nominated, Most Promising Male Vocalist of the Year
  • 1999 - Won, Best Alternative Album, Rufus Wainwright
  • 2000 - Nominated, Best Songwriter; "Poses," "Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk," and "Grey Gardens"
  • 2002 - Won, Best Alternative Album, Poses

Genie Awards:

  • 1989 - Won, Best Original Song, "I'm A Runnin'"

Other:

  • 1999 - Won, Oustanding Music Album, GLAAD Media Awards
  • 1999 - Won, Debut Album of the Year, Gay/Lesbian American Music Awards
  • 2004 - Nominated, Shortlist Music Prize

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Other:. Crazy Horse guitarist Poncho Sampedro was amazed when he first toured Japan with Young in the mid-1970s--their plane was met at Tokyo airport by masses of Japanese youth, all of whom had their straight hair parted down the middle, all of whom were wearing flannel shirts and patched jeans just like their hero, all of whom were welcoming the band with chants of "Neileru, Neileru!". Genie Awards:. Young's tour busses operate on biodiesel. Juno Awards:. When filming the motion-picture The Last Waltz, Young appeared on stage with one nostril clearly filled with cocaine. Band leader Robbie Robertson later had to pay several thousand dollars for the cocaine to be rotoscoped out of the film, lest rock audiences be "offended." Robertson called it "the most expensive cocaine I've ever bought." When asked about the incident many years later, Young replied, "I'm not proud of that.". He made his motion picture debut in The Aviator and will also appear in the upcoming film, Heights. Comparison of modern concert footage with Buffalo Springfield footage shows that Young has had extensive dental work in the intervening years.

His latest, a live iTunes Sessions EP entitled Alright Already is due for release in March 2005. Police knocked out one of Young's teeth when they assaulted him in the aftermath of one of the notorious Sunset Strip riots of 1967. It is a companion to the 2003 release Want One. Young owns a wooden schooner, the Ragland, which he named after his mother, Rassy Ragland. Wainwright's newest album, Want Two, of which four songs were released as the EP Waiting for a Want, was released from DreamWorks/Geffen on November 16, 2004. Young's full birth name is reportedly Neil Percival Kenneth Robert Ragland Young. Wainwright is an avid opera fan, and the influences on his music are evident; his music has been described as "Popera" (Pop Opera) or "Baroque Pop." His lyrics are filled with allusions to opera, literature, pop culture, and, more recently, politics (in songs such as "Gay Messiah" and "Waiting for a Dream"). Young's hobbies include collecting model trains (he has an extensive "train barn" on his Northern California ranch), collecting and restoring classic automobiles, and attending San Jose Sharks hockey games with his son, Ben Young.

While some of his most moving songs feature just Wainwright with his piano, many of his songs display complex layering and harmonies, occasionally comprising hundreds of individual parts. The piano Young played on After the Goldrush was later purchased by Eels frontman Mark Oliver Everett and used on the album Daisies of the Galaxy. In addition to being a pianist, Wainwright is a guitarist, often switching between the two instruments when performing live; however, his mastery of the guitar does not approach his talent with the piano. When Kurt Cobain commited suicide on 5 April 1994, he left a suicide note which quoted Young's song "My My, Hey Hey": "it's better to burn out than to fade away". He still often performs with his sister Martha Wainwright (now herself an emerging artist) on backup vocals. In a "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time" list in the June 1996 issue of Mojo magazine, Young was ranked number 9. He has frequently toured as the opener for Sting and co-headlined with Ben Folds and Guster in the summer of 2004. Since 1995 he has been part owner of Lionel, LLC, a company which makes toy trains and railroads.

He garnered great praise for his performance and began touring as a main act shortly afterwards. Young owns Vapor Records, who have signed such artists as Jonathan Richman and Catatonia. Wainwright's first main exposure to the American public came as an opener to singer Tori Amos in 2001 and 2002. The concerts are a benefit for the Bridge School (http://www.bridgeschool.org), which develops and uses advanced technologies to aide in the instruction of handicapped children. Wainwright's sophomore album, Poses (2001), brought similar acclaim. He is one of the founders of Farm Aid, and remains on their board of directors. Each year on a weekend in October in Mountain View, California, he and his wife host the Bridge School Concerts, which have been drawing international talent and sell-out crowds for nearly two decades. This album landed much critical acclaim in Canada, and was even recognized by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the best albums of the year. He has also directed three movies, under his pseudonym Bernard Shakey: Journey Through the Past (1979), Human Highway (1982), and Greendale (2003).

The label signed him and he relased an album in the spring of 1998. He has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice; first in 1995 for his solo work and again in 1997 as a member of the Buffalo Springfield. After having been a fixture on the Montreal club circuit, Wainwright cut a series of demo tapes, one of which found itself in the hands of DreamWorks executive Lenny Waronker. Young was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1982. He also became an enthusiast of such performers as Edith Piaf, Al Jolson and Judy Garland. In 2002, Q magazine named Neil Young in their list of the "50 Bands To See Before You Die". Coming out as a homosexual while still a teen, Wainwright found solace through opera throughout his adolescent years (His track Barcelona features lyrics of Guiseppi Verdi). Reports out of the Young camp in early 2005 had him booking time in a Northern California recording studio to work on material that is a closely held secret.

Additionally, some of his songs feature his mastery of French. Young spent the latter portion of 2004 giving a series of intimate acoustic concerts in various cities with his wife, Pegi, who is a trained vocalist. He lived in Montreal with his mother for most of his childhood and briefly attended McGill University, where he studied both classical and 'rock' piano. The second half of each concert consisted of high-decibel renditions of Young classics such as "Hey Hey, My My," "Cinnamon Girl," "Powderfinger," and "Rockin in the Free World," as well as rarities such as "The Losing End," "The Old Country Waltz," and "Danger Bird.". Despite being born in the United States, Wainwright strongly identifies with Canada and still maintains a residence there. While audience reaction was sometimes mixed (drunken requests for "Southern Man" being an aesthetic impediment at most Young performances), the live stage version of Greendale was for many critics the most satisfying incarnation of the material, and bootlegs of the shows have been widely traded. He began to play the piano at age six, and by age thirteen he was touring with his sister Martha, mother Kate (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kate_McGarrigle), and aunt Anna as the "McGarrigle Sisters and Family." His song "I'm Running," which he performed in the movie Tommy Tricker and the Stamp Traveller, was nominated for the 1989 Genie Award for Best Original Song and earned him a nomination for the 1990 Juno Award for Most Promising Male Vocalist. Young toured extensively with the Greendale material throughout 2003 and 2004--first with a solo, acoustic version in Europe, then with a full-cast stage show in North America, Japan, and Australia.

Wainwright was born in Rhinebeck, New York to folk singers Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle (they later divorced while he was a child). This tale of the Green family also resulted in a movie called Greendale, written and directed by Neil Young (again using his "Bernard Shakey" pseudonym) and starring a few of his friends that act out and lip sync the songs from the album. Rufus Wainwright (born 22 July 1973) is a Canadian-American singer-songwriter. Greendale chronicles the saga of a California family torn asunder by post-9/11 America. 2004 - Nominated, Shortlist Music Prize. That project was Greendale, the album version of which was recorded with Horse members Billy Talbot and Ralph Molina. 1999 - Won, Debut Album of the Year, Gay/Lesbian American Music Awards. Young's shift towards political commentary became more pronounced with the advent of the Iraq War and Young's next project, an anti-Bush rock opera that would come to take a unique position in the Young canon.

1999 - Won, Oustanding Music Album, GLAAD Media Awards. At the America: A Tribute to Heroes concert he performed a cover version of John Lennon's "Imagine". 1989 - Won, Best Original Song, "I'm A Runnin'". Young's 2001 single "Let's Roll", was a tribute to the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks, and the passengers and crew on Flight 93 in particular. 2002 - Won, Best Alternative Album, Poses. It was also his most personal record for a long time, a trend which continued on Are You Passionate? (2002), an album of love songs dedicated to his wife, Pegi. 2000 - Nominated, Best Songwriter; "Poses," "Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk," and "Grey Gardens". Neil's next album, the subtle, understated, acoustic Silver & Gold (2000), was a marked improvement.

1999 - Won, Best Alternative Album, Rufus Wainwright. The subsequent tour of the United States and Canada with the reformed super quartet was a huge success and brought in earnings of 42.1 million dollars, making it the 8th best grossing tour of 2000. 1990 - Nominated, Most Promising Male Vocalist of the Year. The decade ended with Looking Forward, another reunion with Crosby, Stills and Nash, that only occasionally rose above the perfunctory. "I'll Build A Stairway To Paradise" - Soundtrack to the Motion Picture The Aviator (2004, Sony). Both releases took the name "Year of the Horse". "I Eat Dinner" (with Dido) - Soundtrack to the Motion Picture Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004, Geffen Records). The subsequent tours of Europe and North America in 1996 resulted in both a live album and a tour documentary directed by Jim Jarmusch.

"It's Only a Paper Moon" and "I Wonder What Became of Me" - Stormy Weather: The Music of Harold Arlen (2003, Sony). This return to Crazy Horse was prompted by the death of mentor, friend and long time producer David Briggs in late 1995. "When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes" - When Love Speaks (2002, EMI Classics). After composing an abstract, distorted feedback-led guitar instrumental soundtrack to the Jim Jarmusch film Dead Man he recorded a series of loose jams with Crazy Horse, that eventually appeared as the disappointing Broken Arrow. "Across the Universe" - Soundtrack to the Motion Picture I Am Sam (2002, V2/BMG). The accompanying album, Mirror Ball (1995), recorded as live in the studio captured their loose rock sound. "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" - Soundtrack to the Motion Picture Zoolander (2001, Hollywood Records). Still admired by the prime movers of grunge, Young jammed with Pearl Jam at the MTV Music Awards, which led to a joint tour, with the band and producer Brendan O'Brien backing Young.

"Hallelujah" - Soundtrack to the Motion Picture Shrek (2001, Dreamworks). Others dealt with drive-by killings ("Driveby"), environmentalism ("Piece of Crap") and Young's own vision of America (the archetypal car metaphor of "Trans Am"). "Complainte de la Butte" - Soundtrack to the Motion Picture Moulin Rouge! (2001, Interscope). Cobain had quoted Young's "It's better to burn out than fade away" in his suicide note. "Instant Pleasure" - Soundtrack to the Motion Picture Big Daddy (1999, Sony). The title track told the story of Kurt Cobain's suicide, after Young had tried to contact the singer prior to his death. - The McGarrigle Hour (1998). He was back with Crazy Horse for 1994's Sleeps with Angels, a much darker record.

"Shooldays", "What'll I Do?", "Heartburn", "Talk to Me of Mendocino", "Goodnight Sweetheart" and background vocals on various other tracks. On a few of these dates the show ended with a rendition of "Rockin' in the Free World" played with Pearl Jam. "Le Roi D'Ys" and "On the Banks of the Wabash" - Soundtrack to the Motion Picture The Myth of Fingerprints (1997). and the MGs was widely praised as a triumph. "I'm Running" - Soundtrack to the Motion Picture Tommy Tricker and the Stamp Traveller (1989). A summer tour covering both Europe and North America with Booker T. Alright Already (EP; 2005, DreamWorks/Geffen) - available only on iTunes. That year, he contributed music to the soundtrack of the Jonathan Demme movie Philadelphia, and his song was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Song, losing out to Bruce Springsteen's contribution to the same film.

Want Two (2004, DreamWorks/Geffen). Despite being out of step with fashion again, the title track was a minor hit and the record was reviewed well, and sold equally well, containing fine songs such as "From Hank to Hendrix" and "Unknown Legend", a tribute to his wife, and his resurgent popularity saw him booked on MTV Unplugged in 1993. Waiting for a Want (EP; 2004, DreamWorks) - available only on iTunes. Harvest Moon (1992) was the long awaited sequel to Harvest and reunited him with some of the musicians from that session, including Linda Ronstadt. Want One (2003, DreamWorks). Typically, Young's next move was another return to country music. Poses (2001, DreamWorks). Young then headed back out on the road with alternative rock elder statesmen Sonic Youth as support and their influence could be clearly heard on the accompanying home video and live album, Weld, which included a bonus CD (also sold separately), Arc, 35 minutes of nothing but feedback and guitar noise.

Rufus Wainwright (1998, DreamWorks). Using a barn on his Northern California ranch as a studio, he rapidly recorded the aptly titled Ragged Glory with Crazy Horse, whose guitar riffs and feedback driven sound showed his new admirers that he could still cut it, though again the music was not quite as intense as the actual grunge bands themselves - no one could mistake Young's "Country Home" for "Smells Like Teen Spirit". By 1990 grunge music was beginning to make its first inroads in the charts and many of its prime movers, including Nirvana's Kurt Cobain, were citing Young as an influence, which led elements of the press to dub him somewhat dubiously "The Godfather of Grunge". Like Springsteen's "Born in the USA", the anthemic use of this song was based on largely ignoring the verses, which evoke social problems and implicitly criticize American government policies. "Rockin' in the Free World", two versions of which bookended the album, again caught the mood (becoming a de facto anthem during the fall of the Berlin Wall, a few months after the record's release).

and the world in 1989, alongside Young's best love songs for some time and a version of the standard "On Broadway". Freedom completed the return to form, a mixture of acoustic and electric rock dealing with the state of the U.S. Now in something of a renaissance, Young also provided the few highlights on that year's limp CSN&Y reunion American Dream. As a result, Young renamed his back-up group "Ten Men Workin'" for the balance of the accompanying concert tour that followed.

Incidentally, Harold Melvin himself sued Young for use of the Bluenotes name (since Melvin held the rights to it). Accompanied by a witty video which parodied corporate rock, the pretensions of advertising and Michael Jackson in particular, the song was initially banned by MTV (although the Canadian music channel, MuchMusic ran it immediately) before being put into heavy rotation and finally given the MTV Video Music Award for Best Video of the Year for 1989. The addition of a brass section provided a new jazzier sound and the title track became his first hit single of the decade. Signing for Warner Brothers and returning to Reprise Records, he produced This Note's for You (1988) with a new band, The Bluenotes (unrelated to Harold Melvin's old group).

It was, however, enough to fulfill his contract with Geffen and enable him to switch labels. Even the resumption of his partnership with Crazy Horse on 1987's Life failed to raise him from the artistic doldrums. Young would later claim that he had grown so angry with Geffen that he was now producing music purely to watch it anger the bosses at Geffen Records. Old Ways (1985) saw a return to country music, recorded with a group of friends and session musicians, but the songs were largely tepid, whereas Landing on Water (1986) was an equally unsatisfying amalgam of his older styles, '80s synthesiser pop and Trans-era experimentation.

Fans, however, were baffled and the album, along with 1983's rockabilly-styled Everybody's Rockin' would lead record company head David Geffen to sue Young for making "unrepresentative" music. (In 1986 Young and wife Pegi would help found The Bridge School [2] (http://www.bridgeschool.org/), and they continue to support it with an annual benefit concert). Recorded almost entirely electronically with the instruments and vocals modified by effects such as vocoder and a reliance on synthesizers, it is often considered Young's attempt to experiment with technology that might give his son Ben, who has severe cerebral palsy and cannot speak, a way to communicate. Thompson, he recorded Hawks and Doves (1980), a folk/country record in step with his public—and surprising—support for Ronald Reagan. Re-ac-tor (1981) was another set with Crazy Horse, with a mask of distortion and feedback obscuring a relatively weak selection of songs, but his strangest record of the decade came with 1982's Trans.

After providing the incidental music to the film "Where The Buffalo Roam", a biopic of Hunter S. Like many rock stars of the '60s and '70s, the 1980s were a lean time for Young both critically and commercially as he struggled to remain relevant. A movie version of the concerts, also called "Rust Never Sleeps", was released in 1979, and directed by Young under the pseudonym "Bernard Shakey". The accompanying albums Rust Never Sleeps (new material, recorded in front of a live audience but essentially a studio album) and Live Rust (a mixture of old and new, and a genuine live record) captured the two sides of the concerts.

Rotten, meanwhile, returned the favor by playing one of Young's records on a London radio show. It also coined the infamous phrase "It's better to burn out than fade away", which would return to haunt Young some years later. A new song, "Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)" compared the changing public perceptions of Johnny Rotten and the recently deceased Elvis Presley, once dismissed as a dangerous influence himself but later hailed as an icon. A direct response to punk rock, the tour proved Young to be one of the few performers who understood the new trends and could adapt, although the recordings never really matched the intensity of the actual punk singles of the time.

Looking to avoid retreading the same musical paths, he set out on the lengthy "Rust Never Sleeps" tour, dividing each concert between a solo acoustic set and an electric set with Crazy Horse. The record, with sweet harmonies from Emmylou Harris and Young protege Nicolette Larson gave few clues as to Young's next step. 1977's American Stars 'n' Bars was another country-tinged affair, originally planned as a sequel to Harvest and entitled Homegrown. The release of Martin Scorsese's movie of the concert was delayed while Scorsese re-edited it to deemphasise the lump of cocaine clearly visible hanging from Young's nose during his performance of "Helpless".

In 1976, Young performed with The Band, Joni Mitchell, and other rock musicians in the high profile all-star concert The Last Waltz. Eat a peach, Neil.". The next year he reunited with Stephen Stills for the album Long May You Run, credited to the Stills-Young band, but the accompanying concerts were cancelled mid-tour when Young walked out, later sending Stills a telegram that read: "Funny how some things that start spontaneously end that way. A return to the hard rock of Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, its songs mainly concerned failed relationships, with an exception being "Cortez The Killer", a retelling of the Spanish conquest of South America from the viewpoint of the Aztecs that caused the record to be banned in Franco's Spain.

Young reformed Crazy Horse as his backup band, this time with Frank Sampedro on guitar for 1975's Zuma. [1] (http://www.independent.com/a&e/soundfury904.htm) The mood of these albums was reflected in the tour for Tonight's the Night, a drunken and frequently shambolic affair that divides fans to this day. A review by Derek Svennungsen of the 2004 CD re-release calls it "mesmerizing, harrowing, lucid, and bleary". By the time Tonight's the Night was released, Young had also recorded On the Beach (1974), another blues-influenced record but more focused, based loosely around the theme of the downside of fame and the Californian lifestyle. Like Tonight's the Night it sold poorly, but both would become critical favourites and may represent Young's most original work.

The album received mixed reviews at the time, but is now generally well regarded by critics and seen by some as a precursor to punk rock. Deeply affected by the drug-induced deaths of Whitten and roadie Bruce Berry, they recorded Tonight's the Night in 1973, a dark, maudlin record of unhinged blues and out-of-tune ballads that Reprise did not see fit to release until two years later. In the second half of 1973, Young formed The Santa Monica Flyers, with Crazy Horse's rhythm section augmented by Lofgren on guitar. On November 18, 1972, shortly after he was fired from the tour preparations, Whitten was found dead of a heroin overdose.

During the rehearsals for the tour that would produce the Time Fades Away live album, it became evident that Danny Whitten could not function as a musician due to his drug abuse. The relationship with Snodgress lasted until 1975. The boy, Zeke Young, would later be diagnosed with cerebral palsy. On September 8, 1972 Academy Award nominated actress Carrie Snodgress gave birth to Neil Young's first child.

A rougher ride but I saw more interesting people there.". Travelling there soon became a bore so I headed for the ditch. He would later write that "Heart of Gold put me in the middle of the road. The album's success caught Young off guard and his first instinct was to back away from stardom.

Other songs returned to some usual Young themes: "Alabama" was an inferior rehash of "Southern Man"; "Words" featured a lengthy guitar workout with the band; and "The Needle and the Damage Done" chronicled Danny Whitten's descent into heroin addiction. After the supergroup split up, he recruited a new group of country-music session musicians, whom he christened The Stray Gators, and recorded a country rock record in Harvest (1972). Catching the mood that would soon lift The Eagles to superstardom, Harvest was a massive hit, producing the US number one single "Heart of Gold". The song was used frequently during anti-war rallies in the 1970s, and Young was still performing it 20 years later, by which time he often dedicated it to the Chinese students who had been killed at Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. Young's song "Ohio", a single released shortly after the Deja Vu album, was written following the Kent State University killings that happened on May 4, 1970.

Young spent a year with CSN&Y, recording the classic Deja Vu (1970) and the live Four Way Street (1971). After the Gold Rush was certified gold, but that success was minor compared with what came next. Single "Only Love Can Break Your Heart" was a minor hit. The album contains some of his best work, covering subjects from the environmental concerns of the title track, redneck racism on "Southern Man" (which, along with the later song "Alabama", prompted the reply "Sweet Home Alabama" from Lynyrd Skynyrd) to the acoustic love songs of "Tell Me Why" and "I Believe in You".

The album was a commercial breakthrough, aided by his new-found fame as a member of the supergroup Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young (CSN&Y, with whom he performed at Woodstock), having been invited to join as a foil for Stills. Crazy Horse, and Whitten in particular, were also in evidence on Young's next album, After the Gold Rush (1970), (which also featured the young Nils Lofgren). Danny Whitten, guitar; Billy Talbot, bass guitar and Ralph Molina, drums from "The Rockets" took the name "Crazy Horse". Their album Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (May 1969) -- credited to "Neil Young and Crazy Horse" -- was recorded in just two weeks, and is dominated by two lengthy jams, "Cowgirl in the Sand" and "Down by the River", both of which showcased the understanding between the musicians and Young's idiosyncratic guitar soloing. While a promising debut -- the track "The Loner" is still a staple of his live shows -- it remains a relatively weak set of songs compared to his later output. Wanting a harder rock sound for his next record, Young recruited a few members of the band "The Rockets" who had released a self titled album in 1968.

Neil Young (January 1969), which contained a mix of songs similar to his Buffalo Springfield contributions, and received mixed reviews. Young and Nitzsche immediately began work on Young's first solo record. Along with country music, Young's solo career would tend to flit among these disparate forms. "Broken Arrow" was a lushly produced ballad, with a string arrangement of the kind Young's producer, Jack Nitzsche, would dub "symphonic pop".

On the other hand "Mr Soul" was pure rock and roll driven by a fat guitar riff that owed more than a little to the Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction". "Expecting to Fly" was a piece of confessional folk-rock, of a kind with many other records that emerged from the singer-songwriter movement. Young's three songs on Buffalo Springfield Again can be seen as a model for his solo records. By that time the group had officially split, and Young had signed a solo deal with Reprise records (home of his compatriot, Joni Mitchell, with whom he shared a manager named Elliot Roberts).

Young rejoined in time to help record a final, disappointing, album -- Last Time Around -- released in 1968. Despite that, the album was well received. By then, Palmer had been arrested for possession of drugs and deported back to Canada, and Young had all but left the group; his compositions "Mr Soul", "Expecting to Fly" and the adventurous "Broken Arrow" are solo recordings in all but name. The tensions led to the abandonment of the record, provisionally titled Stampede, although some of the songs reappeared on Buffalo Springfield Again (1967).

During sessions for the follow-up, relations between the band deteriorated, with Stills and Young, the de facto leaders of the group, pulling in opposite directions. Playing a mixture of folk, country, psychedelia and rock, and given a hard edge by the twin lead guitars of Stills and Young, the Springfield were a critical success, and the first record Buffalo Springfield (1967) sold well, supported by a hit single in Stills' political "For What It's Worth". With the American Richie Furay they formed the Buffalo Springfield, taking their name from a popular brand of tractor. In 1966, after an aborted record deal with the Rick James-fronted Mynah Birds, he and bass player Bruce Palmer relocated to Los Angeles, where he again met Stills.

Having first played in high school instrumental rock bands in Winnipeg (one of whom, the Squires, had a local hit with "The Sultan") he began to work the folk clubs of Toronto, where he befriended guitarist Stephen Stills. Young was born in Toronto; his father is sportswriter and novelist Scott Young. In addition to electric and acoustic guitars, he has occasionally performed on piano and organ, and frequently complements singing with harmonica playing. Young is recognizable for his distinct high-pitched, nasal voice.

He retains a core audience of devoted followers. His back catalogue includes folk and country, hard rock, rockabilly, garage rock (which saw him tagged "The Godfather of Grunge") and electronica. Coming to prominence with pop band Buffalo Springfield, and reaching his commercial peak during the singer songwriter boom of the early 1970s, his career is marked by experimentation and frequent stylistic changes that have often left critics, audiences, and (in one notable case) his record label, baffled. Neil Young (born November 12, 1945) is a Canadian musician and filmmaker.

The Faber Encyclopedia of Rock, Phil Hardy, Dave Laing (editors). Hyperrust Never Sleeps : The Unofficial Neil Young Pages, http://hyperrust.org/. Shakey: Neil Young's Biography, Jimmy McDonough,. Neil Young, Sylvie Simmons, published by MOJO Books in 2001, ISBN 184195084.

A Dreamer of Pictures, David Downing, published by Bloomsbury in 1994, ISBN 0747518815. Neil Young, the Rolling Stones Files: the Ultimate Compendium of Interviews, Articles, Facts, and Opinions from the Files of Rolling Stone, published by Rolling Stone Press in 1994, ISBN 0786880430. Neil and Me, Scott Young, published by McClelland and Stewart in 1997, ISBN 0771090994. Neil Young: Zero to Sixty: A Critical Biography, Johnny Rogan, published by Omnibus Press in 2000, ISBN 0952954044.

Shakey: Neil Young's Biography, Jimmy McDonough, published by Random House in 2002, ISBN 0679427724. 2005 Untitled, yet-to-be released album. 2004 Greatest Hits. 2003 Greendale (with Crazy Horse).

2002 Are You Passionate? (with Booker T and the MG's). 1. 2000 Road Rock Vol. 2000 Silver & Gold.

1999 Looking Forward (CSN&Y). 1997 Year of the Horse (live album with Crazy Horse). 1996 Broken Arrow (with Crazy Horse). 1996 Dead Man (soundtrack album).

1995 Mirror Ball (with Pearl Jam). 1994 Sleeps With Angels (with Crazy Horse). 1993 Unplugged. 1993 Lucky Thirteen.

1992 Harvest Moon. 1991 Arc (live with Crazy Horse). 1991 Weld (live with Crazy Horse). 1990 Ragged Glory (with Crazy Horse).

1989 Freedom. 1988 American Dream (CSN&Y). 1988 This Note's For You (with The Bluenotes). 1987 Life (with Crazy Horse).

1986 Landing on Water. 1985 Old Ways. 1983 Everybody's Rockin' (with Shocking Pinks). 1982 Trans.

1981 Re-ac-tor (with Crazy Horse). 1980 Hawks and Doves. 1980 Where the Buffalo Roam. 1979 Live Rust (old songs live, with Crazy Horse).

1979 Rust Never Sleeps (with Crazy Horse, new songs played live). 1978 Comes A Time. 1977 Decade. 1977 American Stars'n'Bars.

1976 Long May You Run (with Stephen Stills, the "Stills-Young Band"). 1975 Zuma (with Crazy Horse). 1974 On the Beach. 1973 Tonight's The Night (with The Santa Monica Flyers, release delayed until 1975).

1973 Time Fades Away (with The Stray Gators). 1972 Journey Through the Past. 1972 Harvest (with The Stray Gators). 1971 Four Way Street (live CSN&Y).

1970 Deja Vu (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young). 1970 After the Gold Rush (with Crazy Horse). 1969 Everbody Knows This Is Nowhere (with Crazy Horse). 1969 Neil Young.

2001 Box Set. 1973 Buffalo Springfield (2 LP compilation). 1968 Last Time Around. 1967 Buffalo Springfield Again.

1967 Buffalo Springfield.

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