LOS ANGELES (AP) — David Crosby, the brash rock musician who evolved from a baby-faced harmony singer with the Byrds to a moustachioed hippie superstar and ongoing troubadour in Crosby, Stills, Nash & (sometimes) Young, is 81 years old. age died. .
What you need to know
- The Associated Press was unable to confirm Crosby’s death, despite calls and messages to multiple representatives and Crosby’s widow.
- Crosby had a liver transplant in 1994 after decades of drug abuse and survived diabetes, hepatitis C, and heart surgery in his 70s
- He was a founding member and focus of the Los Angeles rock music community, which later spawned artists such as the Eagles and Jackson Browne.
- Living years longer than even he expected, he experienced a creative renaissance in his 70s, releasing several solo albums while collaborating with others, including his son James Raymond, who became a favorite songwriting partner.
The New York Times reported on Thursday based on a text message from Crosby’s sister-in-law that the musician died Wednesday night. Several media outlets reported Crosby’s death citing anonymous sources; The Associated Press was unable to confirm Crosby’s death, despite calls and messages to multiple representatives and Crosby’s widow.
Crosby underwent a liver transplant in 1994 after decades of drug abuse and survived diabetes, hepatitis C, and heart surgery in his seventies.
Though he only wrote a handful of widely known songs, the witty and always idiosyncratic Crosby was at the forefront of the cultural revolution of the 1960s and 1970s – whether he triumphed with Stephen Stills, Graham Nash and Neil Young on stage at Woodstock, testify on behalf of a hairy generation in his anthem “Almost Cut My Hair” or mourn the assassination of Robert Kennedy in “Long Time Gone”.
He was a founding member and focus of the Los Angeles rock music community, which later spawned artists such as the Eagles and Jackson Browne. He was a hippie patriarch with twinkling eyes, the inspiration for Dennis Hopper’s long-haired stoner in “Easy Rider.” He pleaded for peace, but was an unrepentant screamer who practiced personal warfare and acknowledged that many of the musicians he worked with no longer spoke to him.
“Crosby was a colorful and unpredictable character, wore a Mandrake the Magician cape, couldn’t get along with too many people, and had a beautiful voice – an architect of harmony,” wrote Bob Dylan in his 2004 memoir, “Chronicles: Volume One .”
Crosby’s drug use left him bloated, broke and alienated. He kicked the addiction in 1985 and 1986 while serving a year in Texas on drug and gun charges. The conviction was eventually overturned.
“I always said I picked up the guitar as a shortcut to sex and after my first joint I was sure that if everyone smoked dope, war would end,” said Crosby in his 1988 autobiography, “Long Time Gone,” co-written with Carl Gottlieb. “I was right about the sex. I was wrong about the drugs.”
Living years longer than even he expected, he experienced a creative renaissance in his 70s, releasing several solo albums while collaborating with others, including his son James Raymond, who became a favorite songwriting partner.
“Most guys my age would have done covers or duets on old stuff,” he told Rolling Stone in 2013, shortly before “Croz” came out. “This isn’t going to be a big hit. It will probably sell nineteen copies. I don’t think kids will like it, but I’m not making it for them. I make it for myself. I have this stuff I need to get off my chest.
In 2019, Crosby was featured in the documentary “David Crosby: Remember My Name” produced by Cameron Crowe.
As his solo career blossomed, his seemingly lifelong bond with Nash dissolved. Crosby was upset about Nash’s 2013 memoir “Wild Tales” (whiny and dishonest, he called it) and the relationship between the two spiraled into an ugly public feud, with Nash and Crosby agreeing on one thing: Crosby, Stills and Nash were finished. The election of Donald Trump as US president led Crosby to suggest he was open to a Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young protest tour, but his old bandmates declined to comment.
Crosby rose to stardom in the mid-1960s with the pioneering folk rock group The Byrds, known for hits such as ‘Turn! Turn! Turn!” and “Mr. Tambourine man.” Sleek and baby-faced at the time, he contributed harmonies that were an important part of the band’s innovative mix of The Beatles and Dylan. Crosby was one of the first American stars to become close to The Beatles and helped introduce George Harrison to eastern music.
Trouble relationships with bandmates pushed Crosby out of The Byrds and into a new group. Crosby, Stills, and Nash’s first meeting is part of rock folklore: Stills and Crosby were at Joni Mitchell’s house (Stills would claim they were with Mama Cass) in 1968, where they performed the ballad “You Don’t Have to Cry” worked. Nash suggested starting over. Nash’s high harmony added a magical layer to Stills’ raw butt and Crosby’s soft mids and a supergroup was born.
Their eponymous debut album was an instant success and helped redefine commercial music. The songs were longer and more personal than their individual previous outputs, yet easily recognizable to an audience that also embraces a more open lifestyle.
Their spirited harmonies and themes of peace and love became a hallmark of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Their version of the Mitchell song “Woodstock” was the theme for the 1969 rock concert documentary, which saw the group perform live together for only the second time. Crosby had produced Mitchell’s first album ‘Song to a Seagull’ in 1968 and was her boyfriend for a while (as was Nash).
Now sporting the drooping, bushy mustache that would forever mark him, Crosby provided harmony and rhythm guitar, and his songs reflected his own volatile persona. They ranged from the hazy romanticism of “Guinevere” to the spirituality of “Deja Vu” to the operatic paranoia of “Almost Cut My Hair.”
Some critics labeled the group as gentle and self-indulgent.
“If you like living room rock, fireplace harmonies and just a taste of the good old social consciousness, this is your group,” reported Rolling Stone, who nevertheless rarely passed up an opportunity to write about the band.
But CSN, as they would soon be known, won a Grammy for Best New Artist and remained a global touring act and brand name decades later.
The first album was an easy, upbeat take, but the mood darkened during the second album, “Deja Vu”. The band was joined by Neil Young, who had been feuding with Stills while they were both in Buffalo Springfield and continued to do so.
Everyone in the band was worried: Nash and Mitchell were breaking up, as were Stills and singer Judy Collins. Crosby, meanwhile, was so devastated by the death of girlfriend Christine Hinton in a car accident that he would lie on the studio floor sobbing.
With a rougher, less uniform sound, the album was released in 1970 and was another commercial hit. But within two years the quartet had broken up, destined to constantly reunite and splinter for the rest of their lives.
They worked in every possible combination – as solo artists, as duos, trios and occasionally all four together. They played in stadiums and clubs. They appeared at the Berlin Wall in 1989 as the Cold War came to an end and appeared at the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York in 2011.
In recent years, Crosby has toured frequently and candidly answered questions on Twitter with a mixture of affection and exasperation, whether commenting on rock star peers or judging the quality of a fan’s marijuana joint. He loved sailing and his biggest regret, besides hard drugs, was selling his 23 meter boat due to money problems. Among the songs completed on the boat was the classic “Wooden Ships”, co-written with Jefferson Airplane’s Stills and Paul Kantner.
Crosby was born David Van Cortlandt Crosby on August 14, 1941 in Los Angeles. His father was Oscar-winning cinematographer Floyd Crosby, of “High Noon” fame. The family, including his mother, Aliph, and brother, Floyd Jr., later moved to Santa Barbara.
Crosby came into contact with classical, folk and jazz music at an early age. In his autobiography, Crosby said he harmonized as a child with his mother singing, his father playing the mandolin, and his brother playing the guitar.
“When rock ‘n’ roll came up at that time and the era of Elvis owned America, I didn’t like it,” he recalls.
His brother taught him to play the guitar and, still in his teens, he began performing in Santa Barbara clubs. He moved to Los Angeles in 1960 to study acting, but abandoned the idea and became a folk singer, working across the country before joining The Byrds. Like many folk artists, Crosby was dazzled by the Beatles’ 1964 film “A Hard Day’s Night” and decided to become a rock star.
Crosby married his longtime girlfriend Jan Dance in 1987. The couple had a son, Django, in 1995. Crosby also had a daughter, Donovan, with Debbie Donovan. Shortly after receiving the liver transplant, Crosby was reunited with Raymond, who had been put up for adoption in 1961. Raymond, Crosby and Jeff Pevar later performed together in a group called CPR.
“I’ve often regretted losing him,” Crosby told Raymond’s The Associated Press in 1998. “I was too immature to raise anyone, and too irresponsible.”
In 2000, Melissa Etheridge revealed that Crosby was the father of the two children she shared with then-partner Julie Cypher. Cypher was carrying the children Crosby fathered through artificial insemination, Etheridge told Rolling Stone. A son, Beckett, died in 2020.
Crosby didn’t help raise the kids, but said, “If in due course, they’re remotely proud of who their genetic father is, that’s great.”