Neil Young has pulled out of his performance at the 2021 edition of Farm Aid, scheduled for Sept. 25 in Hartford, Connecticut, citing his concerns over COVID-19.
Young, who is a Farm Aid board member and co-founded the festival in 1985 with Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp, revealed the news on his Neil Young Archives website.
“I find myself wondering whether Farm Aid will be safe for everyone with the Covid pandemic surging,” said Young on his decision to withdraw from the sold-out festival. “I worry about that. I don’t want to let anybody down, but still can’t shake the feeling that it might not be safe for everyone.”
Also concerned over a potential spread of the coronavirus to children during the event, Young said, “There are already too many children in hospitals. My soul tells me it would be wrong to risk having anyone die because they wanted to hear music and be with friends.”
The Farm Aid performance would have marked Young’s first performance since the 2019 Farm Aid in Wisconsin, and while he is no longer listed in the event lineup, the 2021 edition sill includes performances by fellow Farm Aid board members Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, and Dave Matthews listed as performers, in addition to Margo Price, Sturgill Simpson, Nathaniel Rateliff, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Allison Russell, and more
“While I respect Willie, John, and Dave’s decisions to stick with it and play, I am not of the same mind,” Young wrote. “It is a tough call.”
Young added, “I don’t want to play until you feel safe, and it is indeed, safe.”