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Monday, January 23, 2023

David Crosby, an icon of American rock, has died at age 81 : NPR


David Crosby, an icon of American rock, has died. A co-founder of The Byrds and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Younger influenced a technology of rockers and singer songwriters. He was 81.



ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Legendary musician David Crosby has died. He was the founding member of The Byrds and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Younger. He influenced scores of singer songwriters. Crosby helped form rock music with highly effective harmonies and a sound that blended parts of folks, pop nation and psychedelia. The 2-time Rock & Roll Corridor of Fame inductee was 81 years previous. It was simply final 12 months that Crosby mentioned he was performed performing stay, saying he was too previous to do it anymore and that he did not have the stamina or the energy. Crosby’s passing got here after a protracted sickness. NPR’s Eric Westervelt has this appreciation.

(SOUNDBITE OF CROSBY, STILLS AND NASH’S “SUITE: JUDY BLUE EYES”)

ERIC WESTERVELT, BYLINE: In a late Sixties and early ’70s rock period dominated by both heavy electrical guitar gods or meandering psychedelia, David Crosby and his associates took a really completely different path.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “SUITE: JUDY BLUE EYES”)

CROSBY, STILLS AND NASH: (Singing) I’m yours. You’re mine. You’re what you might be. You make it arduous.

WESTERVELT: Crosby, Stills & Nash at instances would soar with electrical jams. However their basis was a singular California sound constructed on harmonies, acoustic guitars and a dose of self-awareness typically lacking in rock lyrics. Precisely the place in LA’s Laurel Canyon Crosby, Stills & Nash first sang collectively remains to be debated, misplaced in a smoky haze. However Crosby advised me in a 2019 interview that evening, all of them realized they’d one thing particular.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

DAVID CROSBY: Crosby, Stills & Nash knew immediately. As quickly as we sang certainly one of Stephen’s songs, you realize, he is an incredible songwriter. Quickly as Nash put within the high half, we mentioned, oh, yeah, OK, that is what I will be doing for some time.

WESTERVELT: Crosby, Stills & Nash’s 1969 self-titled debut album was an enormous crucial and industrial success. America’s first rock supergroup was born.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “HELPLESSLY HOPING”)

CROSBY, STILLS AND NASH: (Singing) They’re one particular person. They’re two alone. They’re three collectively. They’re for one another.

WESTERVELT: The group grew out of three profitable bands that had been imploding. Graham Nash needed out of the pop rock group the Hollies. Stephen Stills and Neil Younger had departed the Buffalo Springfield. And Crosby had simply been kicked out of The Byrds. Crosby, Stills & Nash’s second stay present ever was in entrance of almost half one million folks at Woodstock. They quickly toured the U.S. to sold-out reveals.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CROSBY, STILLS AND NASH: (Singing) Converse your thoughts, man, yeah. That’s in the event you nonetheless can and you continue to dare.

WESTERVELT: The band often spoke and sang out towards the Vietnam Warfare, political repression and different points. In the summertime of 1969, the group added buddy Neil Younger. And in 1970, the newly expanded CSN & Y launched the album “Deja Vu,” an unbridled masterpiece. Crosby wrote and sang lead vocals on the title observe.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “DEJA VU”)

CROSBY, STILLS, NASH AND YOUNG: (Singing) Really feel like I have been right here earlier than. And you realize, it makes me surprise what is going on on…

WESTERVELT: Crosby’s profession began in Los Angeles, the place he was born. His first huge band was The Byrds. The group discovered success protecting folks classics and later peaked with the psychedelic-infused hit “Eight Miles Excessive.”

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “EIGHT MILES HIGH”)

THE BYRDS: (Singing) Eight miles excessive. And whenever you contact down, you will discover that it is stranger than identified.

WESTERVELT: Crosby’s offstage excesses and antics quickly made him into one thing of a larger-than-life folks hero. However the Crosby fantasy would run arduous into the truth that he’d turn into extremely tough to take care of and a drug addict. The fights, inventive and private, inside Crosby, Stills, Nash & Younger are legendary. Crosby had began utilizing heroin after a girlfriend was killed in a automotive crash. He would add copious quantities of cocaine, typically freebasing the drug, and commenced a protracted, gradual spiral. Crosby advised me well-known associates, together with Nash and Jackson Browne, tried interventions.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

CROSBY: That did not work, both. There is a sure second that you’ve got when you realize you simply merely cannot go on. You may’t go any additional down that highway. Within the conferences, they inform you it is a second of readability. No matter you need to name it, there’s a second.

WESTERVELT: Crosby’s second got here with the assistance of a Texas jail. Drug addled, paranoid and going through a number of weapons and drug violations, Crosby hid out on his sailboat in South Florida earlier than turning himself in to the West Palm Seashore FBI workplace. He was later sentenced to 5 years on medicine and weapons fees, however did lower than a 12 months. He kicked heroin throughout 5 months behind bars in Texas.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

CROSBY: Going to jail labored. I do not advocate it. It is a arduous, arduous, arduous approach to kick it. They laughed at me and thought I used to be humorous. Hey, rock star. How are you now?

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “COWBOY MOVIE”)

CROSBY: (Singing) We had been driving again to have ourselves a celebration to have fun the robbing of the practice.

WESTERVELT: However even after he received off arduous medicine, those who knew him say there was nonetheless a core battle. Crosby’s inventive brilliance, humor and spark typically combined with equal doses of conceitedness, egomania and hubris that alienated a few of these closest to him.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOCUMENTARY, “DAVID CROSBY: REMEMBER MY NAME”)

CROSBY: All the primary guys that I made music with will not even discuss to me – all of them.

WESTERVELT: That is Crosby and author and filmmaker Cameron Crowe’s documentary “Bear in mind My Title.” When it got here out, I requested Crosby about how as soon as good associates who made nice music collectively may find yourself so estranged.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

CROSBY: So it was a totally aggressive band. And we had been competing on a regular basis, the entire time. And we had been horrible to one another many, many instances – all of us. Regardless of that, we made some unbelievable music. And I haven’t got any dangerous emotions in my coronary heart about any of these guys. However I actually cannot stand round ready to have a remedy session. Within the 5 minutes I received, I received to play a tune.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “LOOK IN THEIR EYES”)

DAVID CROSBY AND THE LIGHTHOUSE BAND: (Singing) You miss him whenever you’re passing by.

WESTERVELT: Crosby’s last years had been crammed with numerous new songs, regardless of well being setbacks. Crosby recorded a number of solo albums and toured with teams of youthful musicians, together with The Lighthouse Band, right here performing for NPR’s Tiny Desk live performance sequence.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “LOOK IN THEIR EYES”)

DAVID CROSBY AND THE LIGHTHOUSE BAND: (Singing) Look in his eyes. See him in the dead of night. What do you discover? With out a mild, and not using a spark. Look in his eyes and see the darkish.

WESTERVELT: When the documentary about Crosby got here out, he advised me he is at peace with who he’d turn into, regardless of the burned bridges and misplaced associates. I’ve harm lots of people, he mentioned, including, I’ve helped much more.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

CROSBY: You recognize, in the event you was once a junkie, you spend all of your time pondering how terrible you had been. So the sensation of with the ability to take a look at myself now and be happy with myself – oh, boy, that is an enormous deal.

WESTERVELT: Eric Westervelt, NPR Information.

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