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Neil Young & Crazy Horse


'63 was the year that Danny Whitten, Billy Talbot and Ralph Molina first performed together. By the late 60s, the three formed the nucleus of The Rockets, a group that jammed with Neil Young at Hollywood's Whiskey-A-Go-Go just months after Buffalo Springfield disbanded. Around that same time The Rockets issued their self-titled debut.

Impressed, Young enlisted Whitten, Talbot and Molina to back him on his second solo album "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere," which featured the classic "Cinnamon Girl." The credits listed Neil Young & Crazy Horse.

For decades, fans have eagerly anticipated each Young/Crazy Horse project. But it wasn't smooth sailing. Following a '70 tour supporting "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere" (recordings made on that tour were released in '06 as "Live At The Fillmore East"), Young, a man of many simultaneous projects, joined Crosby, Stills & Nash as a full member of CSN&Y.

Returning to his solo career, Young featured Crazy Horse on only three tracks "After The Gold Rush" tracks.

With Young was sidelined due to back problems. Crazy Horse, which now included Jack Nitzsche as producer and keyboardist, and second guitarist Nils Lofgren, issued their self-titled debut featuring Whitten's "I Don't Want To Talk About It," which later became a pop hit for Rod Stewart.





Though neither Nitzsche nor Lofgren stayed long, the group faced an even more daunting problem - Whitten's drug use. The group was forced to rely on outside musicians on a pair of '72 albums, "Loose" and "At Crooked Lake."

Whitten, now out of Crazy Horse, asked Young for a spot in the latter's touring band to promote "Harvest." Whitten arrived at Young's Northern California ranch for rehearsals but simply didn't mesh with the other musicians. As a result, he was fired. Young paid Whitten's air fare back to L.A. That evening Whitten died of a drug overdose - a fatal combination of Valium and alcohol. Whitten was taking Valium for severe knee arthritis. He used alcohol to try to get over his heroin addiction.

"Danny just wasn't happy," Young said. "It just all came down on him. He was engulfed by this drug. That was too bad. He was really good."

In '74, Crazy Horse added rhythm guitarist Frank "Poncho" Sampedro. "We were all soaring," said Talbot. "Neil loved it. We all loved it. It was the first time we heard the Horse since Danny Whitten died."

"Zuma" was Young's seventh solo album but only his second full-length set with Crazy Horse. The '75 release marked Sampedro's recording debut with the group.

Crazy Horse figured predominately on Young's '77's "American Stars 'n Bars" but were only played on two songs for "Comes A Time." One of the songs was "Lotta Love," which Nicolette Larson covered and turned into a hit.

"Crazy Moon" dropped in '78. It was the last Crazy Horse album for over a decade.
They backed Young on the tour that led to the successful "Rust Never Sleeps" and "Live Rust" albums. Both were credited to Young and Crazy Horse.

Young, who spent a chunk of the '80s dabbling in various musical genres, didn't really have a place for Crazy Horse. On one project Young decided to keep Sampedro but not Talbot and Molina. As a result, the dismissed pair recorded the group's fifth album, '89's"Left For Dead, without Sampedro.

But the full line-up of Sampedro, Talbot and Molina were on hand for Young's '90 set "Ragged Glory" and they continued to work with him over the next dozen years. ("Sleeps With Angels," "Broken Arrow" and the live "Year Of The Horse"). Young's feeling that the songs on "Greendale" only needed one guitar meant Sampedro didn't participate in those sessions but he did tour.

Originally, Crazy Horse backed Young on "Are You Passionate?" but the sessions proved unsatisfactory and Young ended up working with Booker T. & The MGs. At the time, Young had some critical words for his long-time backing band.

"They have to be together before I can be together with them," he stated. "They haven't been doing anything together, so they need to be able to do it. I have to go with things that are going to support me. But I think they can do it."

They did. Crazy Horse recorded "Americana" with Young and toured with him, for the first time in eight years, in support of the '12 album.

They also issued "Psychedelic Pill" later in the year. Though the title indicated a return to the late '60s, and the handful of extended jams reflected that, the album was actually a potent shot of their no frills, pre-psychedelic Garage Rock.
Neil Young & Crazy Horse Discography

Albums:

1971 Crazy Horse
1972 Loose
1972 At Crooked Lake
1978 Crazy Moon
1989 Left For Dead
2005 Gone Dead Train: The Best Of Crazy Horse 1971-1989
2005 Scratchy: The Complete Reprise Recordings

Neil Young & Crazy Horse

1969 Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
1970 After the Gold Rush ("Oh Lonesome Me," "When You Dance I Can Really Love," and "I Believe In You")
1975 Tonight's The Night ("Come On Baby Let's Go Downtown" - recorded live at the Fillmore East, '70)
1975 Zuma
1977 American Stars 'n Bars
1978 Comes A Time ("Look Out For My Love" and "Lotta Love")
1979 Rust Never Sleeps ("Powderfinger," "Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)," "Welfare Mothers" and "Sedan Delivery")
1979 Live Rust (live)
1981 Re-ac-tor
1982 Trans
1987 Life
1990 Ragged Glory
1991 Weld (live)
1991 Arc (live composite of feedback, guitar noise, and vocal fragments)
1994 Sleeps With Angels
1995 The Complex Sessions (EP, promo only)
1996 Broken Arrow
1997 Year Of The Horse (live)
2002 Are You Passionate? ("Goin' Home")
2003 Greendale
2006 Live At The Fillmore East (recorded '70)
2012 Americana
2012 Psychedelic Pill


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