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Neil Young & Crazy Horse take another trip to Tulsa

Neil Young's longtime rhythm guitarist Frank “Poncho” Sampedro spurred Crazy Horse to go the extra studio mile.
BY GENE TRIPLETT Published: October 12, 2012

Sampedro's mastery of emerging computer technology also landed him a second career on “The Tonight Show” when Jay Leno took over as host in 1992. At first he worked as a MIDI technician for the show's bandleader Branford Marsalis, then as executive assistant to Marsalis' successor, Kevin Eubanks.

It was a job Sampedro held until his retirement in 2010.

“The Tonight Show gig, it's like ‘Groundhog Day',” Sampedro said. “You know, you finish a show, you know, ‘Great show, wonderful,' you go back to your desk and there's three sheets of paper for tomorrow's show ... I really love Kevin Eubanks. We'll be best friends forever. But it's intense.”

But Sampedro never quit his job with Crazy Horse. Now, he leads a more leisurely life in Hawaii, when he's not recording or touring with Young and the band. Young happens to be one of his neighbors, but they don't see much of each other when they're not working.

“I'm there every day all the time and he's so busy he only gets to come by every once in a while,” Sampedro said. “It's amazing how much energy he has and all the things he's doing. I just look at him and go, ‘I couldn't do that.'”

But it was Sampedro who urged Young to keep going after “Americana,” resulting in the double-length “Psychedelic Pill.”

“Neil wrote some really good, emotional songs and that's what Crazy Horse thrives on,” he said. “We can really sink our teeth into that, and somethin' that we have a chance to put our hearts into, and really feel. And we took a lot of these songs for a ride. You know, I was hopin' that we could do somethin' like this and I'm so happy. I can't tell you how happy I am with ‘Psychedelic Pill.' I'm so proud of it. And I'm really glad that we're out here touring and getting to play new music that's just as relevant — or more relevant — as anything we've ever done.”

And when that album was done, Sampedro still wanted to keep on going.

“When we finished ‘Psychedelic Pill' and things were goin' so good and we were on a roll and it was still fun, I said, ‘Why don't we do a third one, Neil, and just keep goin', man? Everything's happenin'.' And he just looked at me with a little smile and said, ‘Poncho, you can't get greedy.'”

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