Neil Young has spoken out over a developing conspiracy theory that his music publishing is overseen by pharmaceutical corporation Pfizer – the company behind one of the most widely-used COVID-19 vaccines.
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In a since-deleted letter posted to his Neil Young Archives website (as transcribed by Stereogum), Young addressed the circulated belief his views on vaccines were dictated to him by Pfizer – who, according to the conspiracy theory, own Young’s music publishing.
The misunderstanding stems from the fact that a former CEO at Pfizer now serves as a senior advisor for asset manager Blackstone, which currently has a partnership with music publisher Hipgnosis – with whom Young presently works.
Young described the conspiracy theory as “clever but wrong” in the letter, while also quipping “so much for Pharm Aid” – a reference to both the common conspiracy theory trope of “big pharma” and Farm Aid, the annual benefit concert he is a board memebr of.
“The publishing share Hipgnosis has in my copyrights is in the Hipgnosis Songs Fund, that is publicly traded on the London Stock Exchange,” Young explained.
“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.”
The conspiracy theory is part of an ongoing conservative backlash against Young – most recently expressed by right-wing American rock musician Ted Nugent, who described Young as a “stoner birdbrain punk” for his recent protest against Spotify and Joe Rogan.
Young removed his catalogue of albums from Spotify last month to protest the platform having Rogan’s podcast The Joe Rogan Experience as an exclusive to the service. Young believes Rogan is responsible for spreading misinformation regarding COVID-19 vaccines, and has since urged employees of Spotify to quit their jobs over Rogan’s platforming.
“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.”