The only consistent members of Crazy Horse are bassist Billy Talbot and drummer Ralph Molina. Talbot and Molina are the only band members to appear on every release. Crazy Horse had a rotating lineup that changed from album to album, which added more variety to their sound.
Other vital members over the years have included guitarist Frank “Poncho” Sampedro, vocalist Rick Curtis, vocalist and organ player Michael Curtis, guitarist Nils Lofgren, and multi-instrumentalist and producer Jack Nietzsche, as well as at least seven other musicians. Their mix of folk, country, R&B, and hard rock has influenced multiple artists such as Nazareth, Dinosaur Jr., Mudhoney, and Nirvana. Crazy Horse continues to tour and record with and without Neil Young.
# 10 – Love is Gone
Recorded for their second album, At Crooked Lake, and released in 1972. “Love is Gone” was written by Rick and Michael Curtis. Rick Curtis and his brother Michael joined the band to replace former singer and guitarist Danny Whitten who died of an overdose of alcohol and valium after recording their first album. “Love is Gone” is a country rock song based around an acoustic guitar melody with acoustic and steel guitar solos.
# 9 – She’s Hot
Released on 1978’sCrazy Moon. She’s Hot features Billy Talbot on bass and vocals, Frank “Poncho” Sampedro on guitar and vocals, Ralph Molina on drums and vocals, and Neil Young’s guest appearance on the guitar. “She’s Hot” uses feedback and a heavy electric rhythm guitar to create a dissonant sound. Neil Young’s distinctive electric guitar soloing is a prominent part of the track. It has a grungy, noisy, back-to-basics garage rock feel to it, with no piano, organ, or acoustic guitar whatsoever.
# 8 – Beggar’s Day
Written by Nils Lofgren for their first album, Crazy Horse, in 1971. “Beggar’s Day” revolves around a blues hard rock guitar riff. “Beggar’s Day” incorporates Crazy Horse’s trademark full-band harmonies into a hard rock format. “Beggar’s Day” is rooted in R&B, but the use of effects pedals displays Crazy Horse’s innovative techniques and willingness to experiment with their sound. A cover version of “Beggar’s Day” by Scottish hard rockers Nazareth became a hit.
# 7 – Thunder and Lightning
Recorded in 1978 for the album Crazy Moon. “Thunder and Lightning” was composed by Billy Talbot and Frank “Poncho” Sampedro. “Thunder and Lightning” is notable for having Neil Young play electric guitar on the track. The entire band recorded the vocals. “Thunder and Lightning” is much more musically complex than Crazy Horse’s earlier straight hard rock or country rock material. “Thunder and Lightning” features synthesizers, brass instruments, an organ, saxophone, and violin.
# 6 – Gone Dead Train
Written by Russ Titelman and Jack Nietzche, “Gone Dead Train” is the first track from their first album, Crazy Horse. It has a heavy blues rock style and the full group harmonies that Crazy Horse is known for. The piano is very prominent in “Gone Dead Train.” Danny Whitten performed the lead vocals on the track.
# 5 – I’ll Get By
From 1971’s Crazy Horse. “I’ll Get By” was written and sung by Danny Whitten. It has very tight vocal harmonies similar to The Byrds, Crosby Stills, and Nash. A bluesy riff kicks off “I’ll Get By,” but overall, the instrumentation relies more on piano and acoustic guitar than their usual hard rock electric sound.
# 4 – Dirty, Dirty
A Danny Whitten composition from their first album, Crazy Horse, has a slow, mellow beat. The piano is prominent. “Dirty, Dirty” has a precise rhythm and blues influence, which can be heard in the frequent slide guitar solos. These were performed by Ry Cooder, a great musician in his own right who also worked with The Rolling Stones. Whitten sings the lead with backing vocals from the rest of the band.
# 3 – Rock and Roll Band
From their third release, 1972’s At Crooked Lake. “Rock and Roll Band“ has their characteristic heavy rock rhythm guitar playing and includes tight folk rock harmonies reminiscent of Buffalo Springfield, The Hollies, and Crosby Stills & Nash. The lead guitar ranges from bluesy to psychedelic. “Rock and Roll Band” was written by Sydney Jordon. The lead vocalist is Rick Curtis who replaced the deceased Danny Whitten on vocals.
# 2 – Crow Jane Lady
This song appears on their first album, 1971’s Crazy Horse. “Crow Jane Lady” has an upbeat tempo and blues arrangement for the song’s first half. The sound is guitar-heavy with an evident blues influence. The second half of “Crow Jane Lady” is pure country rock, with a mellow beat and prominent acoustic and steel guitars.
“Crow Jane Lady” perfectly exemplifies how Crazy Horse blended their blues-influenced hard rock sound with their country rock leanings. “Crow Jane Lady” was written and produced by Jack Nietzche. Danny Whitten was the lead singer and rhythm guitarist on “Crow Jane Lady.”
# 1 – I Don’t Want to Talk About It
This melancholy country rock ballad was written and sung by Crazy Horse’s rhythm guitar player and vocalist, Danny Whitten. “I Don’t Want To Talk About It” was released in 1971. It appeared on their first album, the eponymous Crazy Horse. “I Don’t Want To Talk About It” is undoubtedly Crazy Horse’s most famous and popular song outside their work with Neil Young. Jack Nietzche produced it.
Thanks to their association with Neil Young, they were signed to Reprise Records. In 1977, “I Don’t Want to Talk About It” was covered by Rod Stewart. Stewart’s version of “I Don’t Want To Talk About It” went to the top of the UK charts and exposed Crazy Horse to a wider audience. It has been covered by multiple artists, including Arthur Conley, Everything But The Girl, Indigo Girls, and Llama Farmers, among others.
Updated January 9, 2024
Top 10 Crazy Horse Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2024
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