Neil Percival Young, OM (born November 12, 1945) is a Canadian singer-songwriter, musician and film director. Young's work is characterized by deeply personal lyrics, distinctive guitar work, and signature falsetto tenor singing voice. Although he accompanies himself on several different instruments—including piano and harmonica, his clawhammer acoustic guitar style and often idiosyncratic electric guitar soloing are the linchpins of a sometimes ragged, sometimes polished sound. Although Young has experimented widely with differing music styles, including swing, jazz,rockabilly, blues, and electronic music throughout a varied career, his best known work usually falls into either of two distinct styles: folk-esque acousticrock ("Heart of Gold", "Harvest Moon" and "Old Man") and electric-charged hard rock (like "Cinnamon Girl", "Rockin' in the Free World" and "Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)"). In recent years, Young has adopted elements from newer styles like industrial, alternative country and grunge. Young's profound influence on the latter caused some to dub him "the Godfather of Grunge".
Young was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1982. He has been inducted into theRock and Roll Hall of Fame twice: first in 1995 for his solo work, with an induction speech given by Eddie Vedder, and again in 1997 as a member of Buffalo Springfield.
Young's 1989 single "Rockin' in the Free World", which hit #2 on the U.S. charts, and accompanying album, Freedom, rocketed him back into the popular consciousness after a decade of sometimes-difficult genre experiments. The album's lyrics were often overtly political; "Rockin' in the Free World" deals with homelessness, terrorism, and environmental degradation, implicitly criticizing Bush-era government policies.
With CSNY splitting up and Crazy Horse having signed their own record deal, Young began the year 1971 with a solo tour entitled "Journey Through the Past." Later, he recruited a new group of country-music session musicians, whom he christened The Stray Gators, to record much of the new material that had been premiered on tour for the album Harvest (1972). Harvest was a massive hit and "Heart of Gold" became a US number one single; incidentally, to this day it remains the only No. 1 hit in his long career.
Young was nominated for an Oscar in 1994 for his song "Philadelphia" from the film Philadelphia (Bruce Springsteen won the award for his song "Streets of Philadelphia" from the same film). In his acceptance speech, Springsteen said that "the award really deserved to be shared by the other nominee's song." That same night, Tom Hanks accepted the Oscar for Best Actor and gave credit for his inspiration to the song "Philadelphia". [wikipedia]