Nils Lofgren on why he considers Neil Young his “big brother”

Nils Lofgren on why he considers Neil Young his

(Credits: Far Out/Alamy/Gijsbert Hanekroot)


In the early 1970s, there was a struggle around Washington, D.C. The birthplace of go-go music was not a musical Mecca in America, and hardcore punk was still ten years away, and D.C. did not have much of a musical identity. Niels Lofgren felt this suffocating feeling. The young guitarist had his own band, Grin, but languished in the relatively modest music scene of the nation’s capital.

In came Neil Young, the iconic singer-songwriter, who was just about to join Crosby, Stills and Nash as the fourth member. When Young arrived in town, Lofgren made sure he met the legendary guitarist and singer. The connection eventually led to 19-year-old Lofgren appearing on After the gold rushamong many of Young’s future releases.

“I met Neil when I was 17 at the basement door (Washington, DC),” Lofgren shares. “Shortly after I met him on the first Crazy Horse tour, I was in California. I looked at Neil. True to his word, he took me under his wing. He introduced me to David Briggs, his producer. In short, after a lot of Hollywood misadventures, I moved in with David in Topanga Canyon. So I saw Neil a lot.”

Lofgren recalls that this couple was very kind, but at the same time harsh with Lofgren when necessary. One example occurred when the two were frank with a young guitarist. “They were my older mentor brothers at a very young age,” adds Lofgren. “They were very reassuring and very honest. I remember when my band Grin became the house band in Topanga Canyon Corral. One night Neil came and jammed with us and we really hit it off and played great.”

Addendum: “So the next day I was at his house with David Briggs. And we felt pretty good, you know? Neil and David told us what a good drummer and how much Neil enjoyed playing with us. Being inveterate friends from show business and the music business, they said: “The band is pretty good, but you need a better bass player.”

“I was dejected because we were a team – a family. But I was only 17 and I had Neil Young and David Briggs – who moved me to their house with a plan to get me a record deal and produce us – what are you going to say to that? “Oh, you guys don’t know what you’re talking about? So we have our bassist Bob Gordon,” Lofgren concludes. “Unfortunately, we lost Bob a few years ago.”

After Green failed, Lofgren reconnected with Young in the 1975s. Tonight is the night as part of Young’s new Crazy Horse offshoot, The Monica City Flyers. After a long spell with Bruce Springsteen as a member of the E Street Band, Lofgren returned to Crazy Horse permanently in 2018.

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