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(Credit: Takahiro Kyono)

Music

Neil Young debunks new Pfizer conspiracy theory linked to his music

Neil Young has weighed into the Covid-19 debate once more. This time, he’s spoken out over a baseless conspiracy theory that has been circulating, claiming that his music publishing is driven by big-pharma juggernaut Pfizer, the company behind what is perhaps the most commonly used Covid-19 vaccine. 

In another letter, which has also been deleted and was posted to the Neil Young Archives, Young attempted to dispel the conspiracy theory that his stance on vaccines is somehow controlled by Pfizer, who, per the theory, own the rights to Young’s music publishing. 

This theory arose because a former CEO of Pfizer is now a senior advisor for Blackstone, an asset manager that has a partnership with music publisher Hipgnosis, with whom Young currently works. 

In the letter, which was transcribed by Stereogum, Young labelled the theory “clever but wrong”. Elsewhere, he joked: “So much for Pharm Aid”, a reference to the numerous conspiracy theories involving big pharma as well as his charity Farm Aid. “The publishing share Hipgnosis has in my copyrights is in the Hipgnosis Songs Fund, that is publicly traded on the London Stock Exchange,” Young said.

Young continued: “The Blackstone investment went into a separate Hipgnosis Private Fund, and none of that money was used for the Hipgnosis Songs Fund. Pfizer has not invested in Hipgnosis, but a past Pfizer CEO is a senior advisor for Blackstone.”

This baseless theory is part of a substantial conservative backlash against Neil Young that is not showing any signs of abating. Everyone’s least favourite gun-toting maniac, Ted Nugent, described the Canadian musician as a “stoner birdbrain punk“, for his recent protest against Spotify giving Joe Rogan free rein to spread dangerous misinformation about Covid-19 on The Joe Rogan Experience

Young caused a media firestorm at the end of January when he removed his entire discography from Spotify in protest at Spotify’s inaction vis-a-vis The Joe Rogan Experience. Since then, Joni Mitchell, Graham Nash, Nils Lofgren and more have all followed suit in a show of solidarity with Neil Young.

Young has also urged Spotify employees to quit their jobs in protest: “To the workers at Spotify, I say [Spotify CEO] Daniel Ek is your big problem – not Joe Rogan,” he wrote. “Get out of that place before it eats up your soul. The only goals stated by Ek are about numbers – not art, not creativity”.

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