Neil Young said he left both Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young for the same reason: He felt the groups “started drifting away” from the reason he was a member.

He co-founded Buffalo Springfield in 1966 before leaving two years later, then joined CSN in 1969 before going solo in 1970. Young was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist and member of Buffalo Springfield but not as part of CSNY.

In a recent interview with Howard Stern on SiriusXM, Young was asked about his refusal to play the Monterey Pop Festival with Buffalo Springfield in 1967. “I never really thought much about anything other than the people we were writing our songs for and the crowds that we played for live, when they would come to see Buffalo Springfield – not 100 bands, Buffalo Springfield,” he said. “We had our own thing. So I’m saying, ‘We don’t need to dilute it with all of that and become part of that whole thing.’ I just thought that it would be good if we stayed focused on our message and what our songs were about, and sing our songs directly to our fans, who loved us because of what we did.”

He noted that "it’s just what I wanted to do – focus on what the songs were about, and the look on people’s faces who came to see us and how we connected with them. To me that was the Holy Grail … it was all that mattered to me. And once we started drifting away from that, I was gone. I didn’t think about it from the standpoint of anybody else. … I can’t do what I do if I don’t act like I believe.”

You can watch the interview below.

Asked about how it felt to leave two successful groups, Young responded to Stern: “I didn’t break up with music; I didn’t break up with love. … I just wanted [the music] to be nurtured. I wanted to take care of it. If the love was suffering because the situation wasn’t right, I wanted to take the love somewhere else where it would do better.”

Stern then asked about Young’s feelings on not being inducted alongside CSN in 1997, saying he didn’t understand the politics of that decision. “I don’t understand it either, but it’s OK,” Young said. “Crosby, Stills and Nash … are kinda like the core of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. I was just kinda like a floating satellite. Those guys’ voices made it happen. Those guys are all great songwriters, they’re great singers, they’re great players.” But, he added, “What I want to know is, where the hell is Crazy Horse? That’s rock ’n’ roll.”

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Neil Young is one of rock's most brilliant, confounding, defiant and frustrating artists.