Neil Young fans suggest musician’s polio experience inspired campaign against Joe Rogan

Musician suffered from the illness for years as a youngster

Jacob Stolworthy
Friday 28 January 2022 09:19
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Bob Dylan and Neil Young to play BST festival 2019 in Hyde Park

Neil Young fans are discussing what they believe to be the inspiration behind the musician’s views on Joe Rogan.

The musician, 76, asked Spotify to remove his music due to the platform’s willingness to host The Joe Rogan Experience.

Young has been widely praised for a since-removed open letter that protested against “misinformation” about Covid-19 vaccines that featured in the commentator’s podcast, which is one of the platform’s most popular.

“Spotify has a responsibility to mitigate the spread of misinformation on its platform, though the company presently has no misinformation policy,” he wrote.

“I want you to let Spotify know immediately TODAY that I want all my music off their platform … They can have Rogan or Young. Not both.”

He expressed the belief that the podcast was “potentially causing death to those who believe the disinformation being spread by them”.

Many fans are now suggesting that Young, who is a childhood survivor of polio, has good reason to support medical advances in vaccinating against deadly diseases.

One such person was Patricia Suflita Wilson, who wrote in a widely shared tweet: “Neil Young almost died of polio as a kid. The vaccine didn’t exist when he was born.”

Neil Young suffered from polio as a child

Wilson continued: “The illness affected his life for years. He doesn’t want others to similarly suffer due to misinformation. Media is missing that detail when discussing his protest of Spotify’s irresponsibility.”

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Young suffered from polio in 1952 during the last major outbreak of the disease in Ontario, when he was five years old. There was no vaccine at the time.

In his memoir, Waging Heavy Peace, Young recalled his parents rushing him to the Sick Children's Hospital in Toronto, and that “it was hard for [him] to walk for some reason”.

He underwent a lumbar puncture “that hurt like hell and scared me to death”, before revealing the moment his doctor confirmed he had contracted polio.

“I remember him trying to get from one part of the living room to another by hanging on to furniture to keep his balance,” his brother Bob Young said in a letter excerpted in the memoir.

“He was unsure of what had happened with his battle with polio. 'I didn't die, did I?' he said.”

The Independent has contacted Young for comment.

In the wake of his back catalogue’s removal from Spotify, fans have been left wondering where they can listen to his music.

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