The Road to Farm Aid 30: with Neil Young

Photo courtesy of Farm Aid. © Paul Natkin/Photo Reserve, Inc.

Come with us on the (virtual) Road to Farm Aid as we celebrate Farm Aid’s 30th anniversary concert in Chicago by profiling the amazing musicians involved  – and join us there in person on September 19th!

Organized in 1985 by Willie Nelson, Neil Young and John Mellencamp, the first Farm Aid concert set out to raise awareness about the loss of family farms and to raise funds to keep farm families on their land. Since then, Farm Aid has raised more than $48 million to promote a vibrant family farm system.  


Name: Neil Percival Young

Born: November 12, 1945

Hometown: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
(but grew up in Winnepeg, Manitoba)

A Bit of Background

Singer-songwriter Neil Young formed his first band while he was in middle school. By the 1960s, he was touring local clubs in Canada, and in 1966 Young decided to move to Los Angeles. Along with Stephen Stills (and others), he founded the band Buffalo Springfield, which went on to make a number of hit records.

The band eventually broke up, and in the late 60s Young went solo, backed by his band Crazy Horse. During this time, he also formed Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young with Stephen Stills, Graham Nash and David Crosby, described by many as a folk-rock supergroup. Young left the group in the 1970s and focused on his (still-thriving) solo career. He continues to tour all over the world. 

As an environmentalist, Young has been outspoken in his opposition to the Canadian oilsands, the Keystone pipeline, factory farming and our overreliance on fossil fuels. His latest album, The Monsanto Years, is a concept album critical of large agribusiness and corporate greed.

Farm Aid Role

Young founded Farm Aid in 1985, along with John Mellencamp and Willie Nelson. As the longest running benefit concert in the United States, Farm Aid has raised $48 million to promote family farming in the US. Young continues to sit on the Board of the organization, along with Mellencamp, Nelson and Dave Matthews.

Musical Tidbits

  • Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s second performance ever was at the Woodstock Festival in 1969.
  • Young has been described as the “Godfather of Grunge” for his influence on the musical sub-genre.
  • Rolling Stone lists Young at number 17 on its “100 Greatest Guitarists” of all times list.
  • He has been inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame twice: once for his solo work and once for work with Buffalo Springfield.

Our Favorite Song

Hey Hey My My (Into the Black) (1979)