Distant Camera: Henry Diltz’s Portraits of Neil Young, 1966–1975
The legendary rock photographer shares intimate shots of one of his greatest subjects.
I first met Neil Young in 1966 when he came to LA and joined Stephen Stills to form the Buffalo Springfield. I was transitioning from five years as a folk musician in the Modern Folk Quartet to becoming a guy with a camera who was able to hang out with musician friends and document their lives.
In the early ’70s, I spent some time going up to Neil’s Broken Arrow Ranch in Northern California with my art director partner, Gary Burden (who still directs all of Neil’s artwork). We would take morning walks around the ranch inspecting things or hang out in the living room while Neil was just being Neil. I did what I always did, which was to photograph everything I saw.
I have always enjoyed Neil’s music and lyrics tremendously, as I have with most of the people I have watched through my camera. I have been to many of his concerts through the years and have spent many hours listening to him talk and laugh—which he does a lot! There’s a good reason certain people rise to the top of the heap: they have an amazing viewpoint and they are able to articulate and share it through their music. That is Neil Young!
By the way…my favorite song of his is “Cortez the Killer.”
— Henry Diltz, June 2016