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Sunday, March 10, 2024

The Origin of Neil Young's Band Name "Crazy Horse"

Neil Young & Crazy Horse
Alchemy Concert 2012 Tour & "Fu##n' Up" Album
(Click photo to enlarge)


Much ado about something -- or nothing -- around here lately @ Thrasher's Wheat's vibrant comments community.

As the battle rages on an empty page over Neil Young "rebranding" Crazy Horse (mainly inside the head of the namesake of this blog), the question arises as to exactly what is the origin of the band name "Crazy Horse"?



While much attention has been paid to the now rider-less horse on logo image and the removal of the word "crazy" from name, the exact origin of the band name "Crazy Horse" seems to be lost in the shrouds of time and mystery.

For many, the assumption is that the name "Crazy Horse" is a tribute to the legendary Lakota warrior chief.

Crazy Horse*
from album art for Americana by Neil Young & Crazy Horse (2012)


In fact, if one looks at the artwork for the album Americana (2012) we can see an image of Crazy Horse*. (as noted in a TW comment, there are no known authenticated photos or renderings of Chief Crazy Horse.)

Pegi & Neil Young w/ Wisdom Dancers
Bridge School Benefit Concert - 10/22/2011
Photo by Nan Philpot


So did in fact the band name itself after "Crazy Horse", the Native American Indian?  Or was there some other calculus going on?

Crazy Horse Monument
Black Hills, Custer County, South Dakota
 (Click photo to enlarge)


In our rather massive discussion on the subject -- which has literally gone all over the map across genres, fields, and centuries -- a few interesting stories have emerged to shed light on the topic.

From a comment by Dionys:

Which brings us to "Crazy Horse". 

I recall something like an interview with Frank Sampedro in which he (jokingly?) brought up the idea that Crazy Horse was named after the famous cabaret club in Paris, well known for their presentation of nude women, comparable to the even more famous "Moulin Rouge", also in Paris. American imitations of this club existed for instance in Las Vegas, San Francisco (!) and Myrtle Beach, SC. 

After protests by the great chief's descendants in 2004 the French establishment's name was changed into "Forever Crazy".

Le Crazy Horse - de Paris, France

"Crazy Horse Saloon - 6 Flags Texas

And another comment by namesake of this blog with a story:

another story lost in the mists of time goes something like this.

The pre-CH band The Rockets were rehearsing and hanging out. Someone is joking about a night spent w/ a bunch of "crazy whores".

Neil walks in and *hears* "Crazy Horse" and everyone laughs.

Another version is that Neil wants to "rebrand" The Rockets. Someone suggests "Crazy Whores". Knowing that won't work w/ the record labels, they decide on "Crazy Horse" as an inside joke.

Neil Young w/ "Woody"
Jack Singer Concert Hall - Calgary, Canada
 January 19, 2014 (concert review)
Photo Gallery by Mike Drew/Calgary Sun/QMI Agency | Calgary Sun
(Click photo to enlarge)


And what about the long running campaign to Induct Neil Young w/  Crazy Horse
Into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Induct Neil Young w/  Crazy Horse
Into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame



Should the whole campaign be revamped as "Induct Neil Young w/  The Horse Into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame???

Have we finally determined the root cause for why Crazy Horse has not been  inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Afterall, Bruce Springsteen's long time backup band E Street Band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

We here at Thrashers Wheat demand answers.

Which brings us to the ultimate "Horse Test": So if it looks like a crazy horse, and sounds like a crazy horse, and smells like a crazy horse, then it probably is a Crazy Horse.

But we'll let our resident TW philosophers weigh in on this.  oh, but wait.  The resident TW philosophers have already debated the subject in great detail.  And they have arrived at a conclusion to the existential "Horse Test" question...

... Saddle up for a crazy ride ...

And, up next on TW ... is it Neil Young & Crazy Horse or Neil Young with Crazy Horse? or simply Neil & the Horse?

Regardless, we smell The Horse a comin'! 

More on Love Earth Tour.

 Love Earth Tour
Neil Young 
Crazy Horse

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At 3/10/2024 01:47:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

On the subject of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame…… I understand that a lot of folks believe that induction into said Hall is a tribute, and an honor to the artists. But I believe this type of recognition is often just a hollow corporate pat on the back. Much like the Oscars, and other artistic award programs, they are simply a chance for the collective members to get together and have a party. These parties tend to be self serving and expensive.

I don’t mean to be negative, or unsympathetic to those who have yet to be placed within the Hall, but ultimately, art was never intended to be a competition. At least not by the artists. The record companies obviously are the financial winners in the end, while the artists simply continue on their own artistic journey.

As a fan of the artists, I have shown my appreciation and support by continuing to purchase their art. Perhaps these awards are more for the fans than the artists themselves. It also feeds on this us against them philosophy that has caused so much misery and suffering in our world. Maybe that’s just my perspective, and I’m clearly in the minority here. But I thought I’d share it anyway.

Peace 🙏

At 3/10/2024 02:05:00 PM, Blogger Alan said...

Hahahaha! I love your post, Thrasher! Our campaign to get the band inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has been possibly set back by the name change. Neil Young himself has perhaps made an obstacle w/ the new name & thwarted R&R’s ability to ask the question! Does the band Crazy Horse, or the Horse, deserve to be inducted into the hallowed Hall of Fame?

The answer for any serious fan of rock and roll is obvious. Of COURSE the Horse should be included! But Neil Young may no longer give a damn. The Rock Hall has by now inducted all sorts of non-rockers, like Dolly Parton! I am a fan of hers but it’s probably ridiculous to include her. Was she a rocker? Of course not!

Neil Young is well known for being a Contrarian, a true rebel. This is probably where the name for the band came from in the first place. I strongly doubt it was anything to do with “Crazy Whores.”

After watching literally everyone else be inducted, Neil probably sees the R&R Hall inclusion as irrelevant. The institution has become a joke. And this band of his seriously Rocks. To Hell with the Rock & Roll Hall of fame! The Horse has transcended The System. Judges & officers can say whatever they want, it doesn’t matter anymore. Our band is better than they can see!

But when they are finally inducted, and they will be, Neil will have the satisfaction of having disempowered critics who would have disparaged him about the band name. They will say Neil realized the times have changed and he “did what was right.” Like the Chiefs football team, & another team with a far worse name, a Racist smear from yesteryear.

The Horse WILL ride into that Hall of fame. But first, & more importantly, the band will ride across a good swath of North America (& other lands hopefully) playing live shows this Spring & Summer & beyond. And we will get to rejoice in their songs together again. One last ride for the Horse? Nobody knows. But this is going to be a hell of a good party. Saddle up and go! It’s still the same Horse you know!*

*(Not to downplay the very real point of Poncho’s absence, or Nils or Danny’s lack of involvement). At this late hour, with so many departed band mates, & thankfully some just busy or retired, we can rejoice & smell the Horse once again. Long May You Run!

Your Brother Alan in Seattle

At 3/10/2024 02:21:00 PM, Blogger Alan said...

@ Dan : I agree with you. Although I will say that many rock bands have been very competitive. Big egos and all. But that is not where great Art comes from.

The R&R HoF is like the Grammys; the Beatles never won a Grammy.

But some band members & their families & fans may have hurt feelings about it. For their sake, I hope the band gets inducted. But as far as whether it matters… We already know the band is great. They are our band! Rock on! Have a great day!

Your Brother Alan in Seattle

At 3/10/2024 09:44:00 PM, Blogger Steve Rust Downunder said...

Well they should do this while all the boys are still alive and kicking! Be rude not to include them

At 3/11/2024 09:57:00 AM, Blogger Hounds That Howl said...

Thrasher, We will be keeping the Rock Hall Induction campaign branded as Neil Young & Crazy Horse. The reason is simple. There are decades of NY&CH albums, posters T-shirts, and references to the band in Rock Hall material. I assume the Hall would be using these in any exhibit and written material. I remember seeing a classics NY&CH poster there when visiting a few years ago.
Ultimately the name is familiar to the powers that be at the Rock Hall who would be debating this issue. So I don’t want to change horses mid stream (yeah I had to say that) and confuse the issue.
One exception, If Neil and the fellas publicly state that they want Crazy Horse to be inducted as The Horse then the change will be made. KORITFW
Peace, Love, LAOL, Namaste
Hounds that Howl

At 3/11/2024 10:20:00 AM, Blogger Hounds That Howl said...

Summarizing my above post… “Don’t Spook the Rock Hall.”

At 3/11/2024 11:28:00 AM, Blogger thrasher said...

@ HtH - Aye Aye Captain.

stay the course -- of course -- w/ the force of The Horse!

At 3/12/2024 10:39:00 PM, Blogger Matt & Jes Wedding said...

The Beatles won 6 Grammeys

At 3/12/2024 11:59:00 PM, Blogger Alan said...

Wrong! They won 7! They won 7? I gotta say, I have repeated that “no Grammys” claim about the Beatles more times than I care to admit! I was wrong…. Modern research being what it is, I should have looked it up. Somebody told me that a long time ago and I believed them. Can’t even recall who told me.

Anyway, the Grammys still suck. But they are cooler than I thought.

Grammys are all about music sales, right?

Best wishes. Thank you for correcting my mistaken claim.

Your Brother Alan in Seattle

At 3/14/2024 12:03:00 PM, Blogger Alan said...

More on the Beatles winning Grammy’s : They won. 6 while they were active as a band. My apologies for wrongly claiming they didn’t win any.


Your Brother Alan in Seattle

At 3/15/2024 04:49:00 PM, Blogger Philippe 7 said...

I first saw Neil live in concert in Paris in March 1976. When he left the stage after the acoustic set he made a comment that stuck with me ( and that I can confirm, having heard it since on a recording I have of this concert) " I'll take a short break and come back with Crazy Horse - the band, not the club .... not the girls .....not yet" . So he was certainly aware of the existence of this Parisian cabaret. But the band "Crazy Horse" was named 6 years earlier, so .....

At 3/15/2024 05:06:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

@ Alan - again, no worries brother

@ Philippe - thanks for the story. good to know. we'll have to go back and check our tapes.

assuming we can find the cassette. assuming we can play it. assuming we'll ever find the time to get our TW archives back in order ...


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