Neil Young was born on November 12, 1945, to Scott and Edna Young. Young's music career started early. While he was in junior high school, Young formed a band with friend Ken Koblun. In high school, Young formed his first serious band, The Squires, who released a local hit. After leaving The Squires, Young joined the Mynah Birds, then led by Rick James. After that band broke up, Young and bassist Bruce Palmer relocated to Los Angeles. They met up with Stephen Stills, Richie Furay, and Dewey Martin, and the quintet subsequently formed Buffalo Springfield. The short-lived band released two albums, with their most popular song being "For What It's Worth." However, distrust of the band's managers, the arrest and deportation of Bruce Palmer on drug charges, and already tense relations within the band itself eventually caused Buffalo Springfield to break up.
Young signed a solo deal with Reprise Records and got to work on his first album. Neil Young, released in November 1968, debuted to mixed reviews from critics. Young's second album, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, was released in May 1969, and contains one of Young's most familiar songs, "Cinnamon Girl." Shortly after the album was released, Young rejoined Stephen Stills as a leading member of Still's new band, Crosby, Stills, & Nash. Over the next four decades, Young would be an on-and-off member of the band.
In 1970, Young released his third solo album, After the Gold Rush. The album was again a hit, containing some of his most popular work. One of the album's songs, "Southern Man" (which dealt with slavery and racism), along with a later song called "Alabama," prompted Lynyrd Skynyrd to mention Young in the lyrics of "Sweet Home Alabama." In 1972, Young released Harvest, which became Young's only #1 hit and remains his most popular album to this day. The album spawned two singles, including "Heart of Gold," itself a #1 hit.
For the next decade and a half, Young found varying amounts of popularity for his work and also varied the sound of his work. For example, the 1973 album Tonight's the Night, while panned initially, is now considered a pre-cursor to punk rock. During the 1980s, Young embarked upon a series of experimental albums. The 1982 album Trans and the 1983 album Everybody's Rockin' are considered two albums that most departed from Young's standard of country rock; the first was recorded partially with devices that modify instrument sounds and vocals with electronic effects, while the second was a rockabilly-styled album.
The 1990s and beyond saw a return to country rock for Young, but not a loss of the experimentation he had begun in the previous decade. Although Young released the album Freedom in 1989, which produced the hit single "Rockin' in the Free World," Young also occasionally toured with alternative and punk bands, including Social Distortion, Sonic Youth, Booker T. and the MGs, and Pearl Jam. It was his work with Pearl Jam that gave Young the nickname "The Godfather of Grunge." Throughout the rest of the '90s and into the new century, Young has continued to release albums, which, as of September 2008, number over 30. This does not include albums released as part of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young or Buffalo Springfield, live albums, or compilations.