Neil Young couldn’t make it Sunday to Canada’s annual music awards in the prairie city where he played in his first bands, but he was lauded by other musicians at the Juno Awards.
Young, 59, underwent surgery for a brain aneurysm on March 29. He is expected to completely recover, but doctors advised him not to travel or perform.
“If there is a beacon or a bastion of an artist who has maintained his integrity, uncompromising vision, and purity, it is Neil Young,” said k.d. lang, who performed Young’s ”Helpless” during the awards show.
Young watched the televised awards at the Canadian consulate in New York, and was moved by lang’s performance, said John Brunton, the show’s executive producer.
It was the first time the Junos, Canada’s version of the Grammy Awards, were held in Winnipeg, a frigid prairie city where crews cleared away stubborn piles of snow to make way for the red carpet.
Young, who was involved with Buffalo Springfield, Crazy Horse and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, played an ode to Winnipeg on Randy Bachman’s 1993 album “Prairie Town.”
Bachman and former Guess Who bandmate Burton Cummings ripped through classics “Takin’ Care of Business” and “Share the Land” with help from a large group of young Winnipeg musicians.
“Neil Young is one of those people that I love so much ... it’s like I’ve met him through his music,” said Sarah Harmer, who won best adult alternative album.
“I’m sorry for the city that he’s not here, but there’s so much great music I don’t think we’ll be lacking.”
Major winners included Avril Lavigne, who could not attend the ceremony either.
Lavigne beat out Celine Dion, Bryan Adams and Diana Krall for artist of the year. She also won best pop album for “Under My Skin,” and a fan choice award.
Critically respected hip-hop star k-os won single of the year for “Crabbuckit,” best rap recording for “Joyful Rebellion” and video of the year.
Rock icons The Tragically Hip, known for their songs about hockey and Canadian history, were inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, with a taped tribute from fans, bands, and Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin.
“You think of the names Neil Young, Rush and The Guess Who: it feels really great to be part of that fraternity,” Hip drummer Johnny Faythe told Reuters.