I consider Neil Young to be the most influential American (well, Canadian) rock musician, post-Elvis. In 1966, he co-founded Buffalo Springfield (along with Stephen Stills) a band who, in combination with the Byrds, virtually created folk rock, and then country rock, with
the two bands also providing many of the musicians that would continue to morph from band to band and define American rock music for many years to come.
Crosy, Stills and Nash were interesting, but at least to my view, only became huge after Young joined the band. THeir first LP has some terrific music, but nothing to compare with the material on Deja Vu and a good deal of what followed. Young experimented a lot over the years, but (my opinion, again) his best work has always been with Crazy Horse. His influence is clearly stamped on groups like My Morning Jacket and the Jayhawks; it’s safe to say that Grunge would never have existed without Neil Young.
Young’s voice never had the range and beauty of Crosby, Stills or Nash but unlike them, he still has his voice, still sounds like a young Neil Young. In his later years he has dedicate a great deal of time and money to various anti-war and eco-friendly causes. And he’s not only retained old geezer fans like myself, but innumerable time over the years I’ve heard a young person declare that “Neil Young is cool.”