Flashback: Neil Young Sings 'Helpless' With Crazy Horse, David Crosby - Rolling Stone
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Flashback: Neil Young Sings ‘Helpless’ With Crazy Horse and David Crosby

At Farm Aid in 1996, David Crosby performed with Crazy Horse despite earlier saying they should have been ‘shot at birth’

David Crosby is not a big fan of Neil Young’s longtime backing band Crazy Horse. “They should’ve never been allowed to be musicians at all,” he told Young biographer Jimmy McDonough. “They should’ve been shot at birth. They can’t play. I’ve heard the bass player muff a change in a song 17 times in a row. ‘Cinnamon Girl’ – he still doesn’t know it! I’d say to Neil. ‘What the fuck are you doing with those jerks?!’ He said, ‘They’re soulful.’ I’d say, ‘Man, so is my dog, but I don’t give him a set of drums!'”

Crosby said this at some point in the early 1990s, a time when Young was very busy with Crazy Horse and refusing to do much of anything with CSNY outside of the occasional charity show. Young briefly split his time between the two radically different bands in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but by 1975 he had recommitted to Crazy Horse; he turned away from CSNY for the next quarter-century. “Crazy Horse only plays what Neil tells ’em to play,” Graham Nash told McDonough. “No extra stuff, no experimenting. That’s terribly confining for a creative musician. I see exactly why Neil plays with them – because he controls everything, and God forbid one of them should ever have an opinion.”

Young’s two worlds finally came together at Farm Aid in 1996, when David Crosby came out to join Crazy Horse for “Helpless,” even sharing a microphone with bassist Billy Talbot. (Check out video of the historic union right here.) Three years later, Young folded and agreed to a CSNY reunion album and tour. They came to Los Angeles in 2006, and Crazy Horse guitarist Frank “Poncho” Sampedro walked into the venue during soundcheck. “The minute Crosby saw me, he said, ‘Oh shit, Poncho’s here! There goes my job!,'” Sampedro told Rolling Stone in 2012. “I felt good about that.”

The Crazy Horse guitarist says he remains a fan of David Crosby, even though Crosby once said he should have been shot at birth. “I don’t know what David was doing back then when he said that,” he said. “He may have just been talking shit. He’s really a nice cat.”

In This Article: Crazy Horse, David Crosby, Neil Young


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