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Neil Young is prioritizing his health – even if that means extending his hiatus from live performances.
The legendary Canadian-American singer-songwriter, 76, has announced he will not be performing this year at Farm Aid – the annual benefit concert for American family farmers, which he co-founded in 1985 with the legend folk Willie Nelson and Indiana rock star John Mellencamp — due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
This year’s Farm Aid will be held in Raleigh, North Carolina on September 24. Although the festival website encourages – but does not require – attendees to wear masks, members of the public do not have to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test. walk in.
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Paul Natkin Photo Reserve Inc Neil Young, Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews
On July 14, the “Heart of Gold” singer posted a letter he received from a fan on his website with his response below.
“I heard you were playing Farm Aid this year, and I hope I can go!” wrote Tyler, a 21-year-old from San Francisco.
“I won’t be at Farm Aid this year,” Young replied. “I’m not ready for that yet. I don’t think it’s safe in the pandemic.”
Young ended her sentimental note by writing, “I miss it a lot.”
On the same day, he responded to another letter on his website from a fan wondering if he would start touring again soon. “Not ready to shoot. COVID is a real danger,” Young wrote. “Long Covid? No thanks. Exposing my son to large crowds. No.”
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Although Young performed in Farm Aid’s virtual concert in 2020, he did not perform at last year’s festival in person, also citing COVID concerns.
This year, Farm Aid lives without one of its three original founders. The concert features a lineup including founders Nelson and Mellencamp, board members Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds and Margo Price, as well as Chris Stapleton, Sheryl Crow and others.
This isn’t the first time Young has expressed his seriousness about staying safe during the pandemic. While speaking to Howard Stern for an interview in 2021, the musician claimed he would not perform live again until the pandemic was completely over. “I don’t care if I’m the only one not doing it,” he told the radio host.
In January, the Grammy winner made headlines for removing his music from Spotify after calling out the platform for hosting Joe Rogan’s podcast, which notoriously spread misinformation about the COVID pandemic and the vaccine.