David Crosby, iconoclastic rocker, dead at 81 – Rolling Stone

david crosby obit

david crosbythe Singer, songwriter and guitarist who helped shape the rock sound of the 1960s and beyond, died Thursday at the age of 81. A source close to Crosby confirmed the musician’s death to Rolling Stonebut did not reveal a cause.

Crosby was a founding member of the Byrds, playing guitar and contributing harmony vocals to many of their most enduring songs, including “Eight Miles High,” “So You Want to Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star,” and “Turn! Spin! Spin!” Shortly after being kicked out of the group due to personality conflicts with frontman Roger McGuinn, he formed the supergroup Crosby, Stills and Nash with Stephen Stills of Buffalo Springfield and Graham Nash of the Hollies. The trio, which became a four-piece in 1969 when Neil Young joined their ranks, played an important role in the development of folk-rock, country-rock, and the emerging “California sound” that dominated rock radio through mid seventies. Croz wrote many of his most beloved songs, including “Almost Cut My Hair,” “Long Time Gone,” and “Deja Vu.”

“It is with deep and profound sadness that I learn that my friend David Crosby has passed away,” Crosby’s former bandmate Graham Nash wrote in a statement. “I know people tend to focus on how volatile our relationship has been at times, but what has always mattered to David and I more than anything else was the sheer joy of the music we created together, the sound we discovered together and the deep friendship we shared over all these long years.

“David was fearless in life and in music,” he added. He leaves a tremendous void of personality and talent in this world. He expressed his mind, his heart and his passion through his beautiful music and leaves behind an incredible legacy. These are the things that matter most. My heart truly goes out to his wife Jan, his son Django and everyone he has touched in this world.”

“It breaks my heart to hear about David Crosby,” wrote Brian Wilson. “David was an incredible talent, a great singer and songwriter. And a wonderful person. I was just speechless.”

While his success continued into the 1970s and into the 1980s, Crosby’s personal life was marred by heavy drug use, which wreaked havoc on his career and led to a short jail sentence in 1985. However, he recovered and continued to make music and tour for another three years. decades. “I have no idea how I’m alive and Jimi [Hendrix] it’s not and janis [Joplin] It’s not and all my other friends” said Rolling Stone in 2014, years after having cleaned up. “I have no idea why me, but I was lucky.”

David Crosby was born in Los Angeles in 1941. His father, Floyd Crosby, was an Academy Award-winning cinematographer. He briefly attended Santa Barbara City College, but dropped out to pursue music. In 1964, he joined a band called the Jet Set, made up of Roger McGuinn and Gene Clark. They changed their name to Beefeaters, and then Byrds. Crosby’s superb harmonizing, heard on hits like Bob Dylan’s version of “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “Spin! Turn! Turn!” was an essential component of the Byrds’ folk-rock sound.

In 1967, tensions within the band reached breaking point, culminating in Crosby’s departure from the group. Crosby and Stephen Stills, who had recently disbanded Buffalo Springfield, began writing songs together in 1968. They were soon joined by Nash, who had just left the Hollies, and the trio performed together for the first time at Cass Elliot’s Los Angeles home. of the Moms and the Dads. Her 1969 self-titled debut was a hit, producing the classic single “Suite: Judy Blues Eyes,” about Judy Collins.

Adding Neil Young later that year, the foursome played their second concert at Woodstock, in front of nearly 500,000 people, heralding the arrival of one of rock’s first and biggest supergroups. CSN&Y’s debut album, Déjà Vu, sold 7 million copies and produced the hit singles “Woodstock”, “Teach Your Children” and “Our House”. Crosby later said, “I think when the Beatles bomb went off, we were the best band in the world.”

CSN&Y released a double live album, four way street, before separating. Crosby recorded his solo debut, If only I could remember my name, in 1971, backed by Nash, members of the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane, and Joni Mitchell (with whom he was romantically involved for a time and who compared Crosby’s walrus-mustachioed look to Yosemite Sam). Though savagely criticized at the time, the languid and meditative album later gained a cult following, with its influence heard in the contemporary neo-folk of the Fleet Foxes and Grizzly Bear. In 1977, Crosby, Stills & Nash regrouped to quadruple platinum CSN. In 1979, they performed at the anti-nuclear benefit concerts sponsored by Musicians United for Safe Energy (MUSE).

1982 daylight again was another success, producing the hits “Wasted On the Way” and “Southern Cross”. During these years, Crosby was a frequent voice on records by Grace Slick and Paul Kantner of Jefferson Starship, Hot Tuna, and Phil Collins (including the hit “Another Day In Paradise”).

However, by the early eighties, his drug abuse was having a ruinous impact. In 1985, he was sentenced to prison for nine months after leaving a drug rehabilitation program that he was allowed to enter instead of serving a five-year prison sentence for possession of cocaine and possession of a weapon. He appeared with Stills, Nash and Young at Live Aid while on appeal bond. Crosby got out of prison in 1986, fresh clean, and married his girlfriend Jan Dance in 1987. In 1990, he published a revealing and widely praised memoir. long gone.

He received a liver transplant in 1994 and recorded another album with CSN, the commercially unsuccessful After the storm. During the 1990s, Crosby gained more attention for a unique act of celebrity generosity when he became a sperm donor to Melissa Etheridge and Julie Cypher. “I am grieving the loss of my friend and Bailey’s biological father, David,” Etheridge wrote. “He gave me the gift of family. I will always be grateful to him, Django and Jan. His music and his legacy will inspire many generations to come. A true treasure.”

In 1995, she reunited with her son Raymond, whom she had given up for adoption in the 1960s, and they recorded three albums together as CPR. (Crosby’s survivors include three other children, two daughters (Erika and Donovan) and a son, Django, the only child from her marriage to Dance.)

Crosby maintained a sense of humor about his troubled past. When he angered the recovery community by admitting to smoking marijuana, he quipped, “Our big crime is that we eat ice cream, let’s face the truth.” He also embraced his reputation as the archetypal “lost boy of the sixties”, especially in his burgeoning acting career. He was a hippie in 1991 countercurrenta waiter in 1992 thundering heart and AA patron in an episode of The John Larroquette Show. (He also occasionally appeared as himself in the Simpsons.) Though much more toned down in the 2000s, Crosby was unapologetic in his pro-gun views. In 2004, he pleaded guilty to criminal possession of a weapon when police found a gun and a small amount of marijuana in his hotel room the night after a concert in New York. He was not in jail.

Towards the end of his life, Crosby recorded the 2014 solo album, cross, his first album in 20 years, with Raymond among the guest musicians and a cover photo taken by Django. “Most kids my age would have made a cover or duet record out of old material,” he said. Rolling Stone at the time. “This will not be a great success. It will probably sell 19 copies. I don’t think the kids will like it, but I’m not doing it for them. I’m doing it for me. I have these things that I need to get off my chest.”

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He followed it up with more solo albums between 2016 and 2021. “I’m very lucky,” he said. Rolling Stone in 2021. “I don’t know if I have two weeks to live or 10 years, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is what you do over time. If you sit on your ass and worry about dying, then you wasted it. I haven’t been wasting it. I’m having a great time and I feel wonderful about it. Sooner or later, something is going to break. Right now, my life is pretty good.”

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