Neil Young News
Yesterday I brought you the Herald's article featuring Billy. Today
bring you the Daily New's article featuring Poncho.
The Daily News Worldwide - Friday, November 1, 1996
After two decades playing with proto-grunger Neil Young, Crazy
By ANDY PEDERSEN -- The Daily News
Crazy Horse's Frank "Pancho" Sampedro lives his life like he plays his
guitar: down and dirty.
There seemed to be just one thing on the 47-year-old rocker's mind
last week during a telephone interview from Edmonton: "What are the
crowds like out there in Halifax?" he demanded to know, shouting
raucously into what sounded like a speakerphone. "We were playing for
some really wild crowds in Europe. The women were throwing everything
they had onstage - shirts, bras, panties.
"Are there going to be girls out there taking their shirts off for us
Crazy Horse and Neil Young play the Metro Centre on Tuesday night.
Disappointed to hear about the East Coast's innate conservatism,
Sampedro then reluctantly indulged questions about his 20-year
on-again, off-again relationship with Canadian-born rock superstar,
It hasn't been easy. Young has always been a lone wolf - a musical
chameleon, who changes his musical style and his band as often as most
people change their shirt.
He has, over a 30-year career, played with such bands as Buffalo
Springfield, Crosby, Stills and Nash, The Stray Gators, The Ducks, The
International Harvesters, The Shocking Pinks, The Bluenotes and, of
course, with Sampedro and Crazy Horse.
But Sampedro says Young's musical polygamy is a fact of life.
"I was frustrated and angry when he first took off to play with other
players," he said, recalling the first time Young split from him in
1975, after they recorded Zuma together. "But you've got to realize
that Neil has a lot of different paths he's got to take. And there's
only one band that he keeps coming back to consistently."
That is, without question, Crazy Horse. Young has returned to the
wildly loose Southern California outfit again and again over the years
- drawn to its no-holds-barred style that fits with his own
rocked-out, distortion-riddled moods.
The band has not gone unrewarded for accepting Young's wanderlust.
Although it can only make minor claims to the songwriting, Crazy Horse
has had an undeniable influence on rock music, especially in the
1990s. The band - Sampedro, bassist Billy Talbot and drummer Ralph
Molina - won't likely fall into obscurity behind Young's own mammoth
The group's undisciplined but thoroughly enthusiastic and visceral
performances - especially on the superbly named Ragged Glory (released
in 1990) - have inspired a generation of grunge and post-grunge
rockers. Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Dinosaur Jr. and Sonic Youth owe much
to Crazy Horse's commercial success.
Nevertheless, Sampedro downplays the band's influence on contemporary
"I really have to laugh when people call us The Godfathers of Grunge,"
he says with a hearty, cackling laugh. "It's not like we were the
first bunch of guys to go out into the garage to thrash out some songs
and write lyrics from the heart.
"That's the way it's always been. I'm just happy that people doing
that are able to get recognition for it now."
Born in West Virginia and raised in Detroit, Sampedro packed up his
guitar and headed for the faster life in California as soon as he was
old enough to drive.
He played in a handful of bands over the next few years, but nothing
much happened. Over the years, he struck up a friendship with Billy
His chance with Crazy Horse presented itself a few years later, after
the band's first guitarist, Danny Whitten, died of a drug overdose in
"By that point, I'd pretty much given up on the idea of becoming a
rock star at all," he recalls.
He wasn't going to turn down an offer to play with Neil Young,
however. Just as he was ready to give up his rock 'n' roll dreams, he
found himself drawn into what would become a life-long career.
Although Crazy Horse has tried to carve out a Young-free career - it
recorded five records without the star - Sampedro says those days are
"No. No. No," he said. "All I want to do is play music, but we never
try to play as Crazy Horse without Neil anymore."
Besides, Young has been going to them often over the past six years.
Along with Ragged Glory, Crazy Horse played on the live double-CD Weld
(1991), Sleeps With Angels (1994) and Broken Arrow (1996). Young's
only non-Crazy Horse record this decade was 1992's country-tinged
All that activity gives them plenty of material to draw upon for their
But like just about everything else with Neil Young and Crazy Horse,
choosing the concert tunes is a rough and ready process.
"We never have a set list; I think Neil only decides what we're going
to play as he's heading onto the stage," Sampedro says.
That's not to say Crazy Horse doesn't have any input at all. Sampedro
says each of the players pushes for their own favorite tunes.
"With me, its Electric Lady Land. That's the one I'm always going
for," he said.
"Whenever we get into one of those extended solos, that's the song I
try to break out into."
What: Neil Young and Crazy Horse perform in Halifax with Moist and
When: Tuesday, Nov. 5.
Where: Halifax Metro Centre. The show is sold out.