After four years, Neil Young and his backing band Crazy Horse will be hitting the stage – their first gig together since 2014, albeit with one notable exception.
The group is slated to perform two shows in Fresno, California at Warnors Center on May 1-3, then head to Bakersfield’s Fox Theatre on May 5-6. For the first time, they will be performing without guitarist Frank “Poncho” Sampedro since he first joined the band in 1975, and will be joined by E. Street Band guitarist Nils Lofgren. Young and Lofgren have actually played together before; in 1973, the pair toured with one another, along with Crazy Horse drummer Ralph Molina and bassist Billy Talbot as a part of the Santa Molina Flyers.
Lofgen mentioned in a tweet that he is “beyond honored” to return to performing with Young in this brief Crazy Horse reassembly.
“Nothing like playing with old friends. A friend just reminded me, at this age you can’t coast,” he said.
The reasoning for Poncho’s absence from these shows is unclear, but during a Rolling Stone interview in 2014, the guitarist said that he hoped he would have the opportunity to tour at least one more time and wants “to do a tour where we know it’s the last one and we can really say goodbye to all the people that have always been there for us.”
“Life is an unfolding saga,” Young wrote on his Neil Young archives newspaper The NYA Times-Contrarian. “A few months back we started talking about playing some remote clubs and getting our feet wet again. Poncho is unable to join us right now but we all hope he will be back … I think it will be the beginning of another beautiful chapter in our long, enriching and life changing Crazy Horse story.”
Throughout the years, Crazy Horse has gone silent and returned at unpredictable times. Young has worked with The Stray Gators and Promise of the Real, but Crazy Horse typically performs on special occasions. Usually, the group consists of Sampedro, Talbor and Molina, but it is unknown who else will perform alongside Young and Lofgen, and if the group will tour anywhere else.
Young posted the following to his website:
In Fresno California, Crazy Horse will return to the stage. Billy Talbot, Ralph Molina, Nils Lofgren and I will be playing for you in the Warnors Theater May 1 and 2 [Editor’s note: Young has since added a third show]. Also we are stoked to have Jonathan Richman, featuring Tommy Larkins on the drums, playing before us.
We are all excited to play together again. Nils being back in the group really lets us do a lot. We are all very ready to get on the boards.
Life is an unfolding saga. A few months ago we started talking about playing some remote clubs and getting our feet wet again. Poncho is unable to join us right now, but we all hope he will be back. Now Nils is with us again! Nils was an original member of Crazy Horse along with Jack Nietsche [sic] and Danny Whitten, playing on Crazy Horse’s first album.
NYA’s latest archival release, ROXY: Tonight’s The Night Live, features Nils and the late Ben Keith, another true original, playing with Billy, Ralphie and I as we opened the ROXY in LA, a short 45 years ago in 1973.
We are stoked to be playing all of our songs again! I have no new ones, but maybe tomorrow they will come. They always do and I am so thankful for that. Come and see us if you can as we approach our 50th year as a band. I think it will be the beginning of another beautiful chapter in our long, enriching and life changing Crazy Horse story.