By Alex Rice

It takes a certain kind of artist to enlist venerable multi-platinum stars to work as session players. Neil Young is that kind of artist. Here are four of the most famous  names to play on a Neil Young album... 

Willie Nelson

Willie Nelson appears on Old Ways’ “Are There Any More Real Cowboys,” but that’s far from the extent of his and Neil’s relationship. They founded Farm Aid together and Nelson’s sons Lukas and Micah play in one of Young’s backing bands, Promise of the Real.

Eddie Vedder

The “Godfather of Grunge” was so inspired by the genre’s most enduring group, Pearl Jam, in the early ‘90s that he invited them to record Mirror Ball with him. Singer Eddie Vedder only appears on “Peace and Love,” as he was dealing with a slight stalker problem. Talk about perfect timing!

Nils Lofgren

Nils Lofgren was wandering around L.A. when he randomly ran into Neil. Young asked the 19-year-old to play on After the Gold Rush; he later popped up on Tonight’s the Night and Trans before joining the E Street Band. He’s still with Bruce, but now he’s back in Crazy Horse after 45 years.

Levon Helm

The Band’s Levon Helm contributed drums to On the Beach’s “Revolution Blues” and “See the Sky About to Rain” and “The Old Homestead” from Hawks & Doves. Factor in the exquisite performance of Young’s “Helpless” from The Last Waltz and they’ve got quite the working relationship!


Alex Rice is the founder of Bandbox. His writing has appeared in the Denver Post, Guitar World and Minneapolis's City Pages.


Photos: Shutterstock / Flickr / Skidmore / Gans