Neil Young said he thinks concerts have become COVID-19 “super-spreaders” and slammed the nation’s largest music promoters for letting artists perform live again at this point in the coronavirus pandemic.
The acclaimed 75-year-old singer-songwriter and guitarist made the comments in a column on his “Neil Young Archives” website this week after having recently postponed his plans to perform live again.
“I know of tours that are out there and have to stop where they are and isolate in motels because one person among them tested positive. I ask myself, why are they out there?” Mr. Young asked Monday.
“Money and business,” Mr. Young answered his own question. “These two need each other. This has been the American way for years and years. Now it has turned on the country in a new way,” the artist added.
Mr. Young, a native Canadian who gained U.S. citizenship in 2020, previously announced he was pulling out of this year’s Farm Aid, an annual benefit concert he co-founded in 1985 and usually performs at.
Despite added safety measures in place for the outdoor concert, Mr. Young said he is still concerned attendees will spread the novel coronavirus and COVID-19, the dangerous respiratory disease it causes.
In his latest column, the “Rockin’ in the Free World” singer commended fellow artist Garth Brooks for having canceled several upcoming performances and encouraged concert promoters to follow his lead.
“The big promoters, if they had the awareness, could stop these shows. Without that, everyone just keeps going like everything is OK. It’s not,” Mr. Young wrote on his website this week.
“Live Nation, AEG and the other big promoters could shut this down if they could just forget about making money for a while,” Mr. Young continued. “They control much of the entertainment business. They hold the power to stop shows where thousands congregate and spread. It’s money that keeps it going. Money that motivates the spreading. The big promoters are responsible for super spreaders.”
Mr. Young concluded: “Folks see concerts advertised and think it must be OK to go and mingle. It’s not. These are super-spreader events, irresponsible Freedom Fests. We need Freedom to be safe. Not a bad example. This could be just the beginning.”
Live Nation and AEG, two of the nation’s largest concert promotion companies, did not immediately respond to messages sent over the weekend requesting their reaction to Mr. Young‘s remarks.
Previously, Live Nation said that people attending its concerts will be required to provide either proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or a recently obtained negative test result effective Oct. 4.
AEG, on its part, said it will require proof of vaccination for the venues and events it owns and operates starting Oct. 1. Unlike its rival, it does not plan on accepting negative test results.
Virtually all major touring acts stopped performing to live crowds in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, although many have reversed course recently since millions of Americans have become vaccinated.
Several major acts have since canceled their concert plans over coronavirus-related concerns, however, including Mr. Young and Mr. Brooks, as well as Limp Bizkit, Nine Inch Nails and Stevie Nicks, to name a few.
COVID-19 vaccines have proven to be very effective at preventing severe illness and death from COVID-19, although vaccinated individuals are still capable of transmitting the virus to other people.
Farm Aid 2021 remains scheduled for Sept. 25 at the Xfinity Theatre in Hartford, Connecticut. Fellow co-founders and board members Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp are both set to perform, among others.