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David Crosby, co-founder of Crosby, Stills & Nash, dies at 81 : NPR


David Crosby, photographed in New York on August 3, 1984.

Ebet Roberts/Redferns


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David Crosby, photographed in New York on August 3, 1984.

Ebet Roberts/Redferns

David Crosby, a outstanding determine of the free-spirited Seventies Laurel Canyon scene who helped carry folk-rock mainstream with each The Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash, has died at 81. His publicist confirmed the artist’s demise to NPR; no reason for demise was given on the time of this report.

Crosby had lengthy handled severe well being issues, together with a number of coronary heart assaults, diabetes and hepatitis C, for which he had a liver transplant in 1994. Despite these challenges, the veteran musician loved a inventive scorching streak lately. He added 5 solo albums to his catalog between 2014 and 2021, and toured regularly with two units of collaborators, the Lighthouse Band (which featured Snarky Pet bandleader Michael League) and the Sky Trails Band, that includes his son, James Raymond, on keyboards.

Crosby’s give attention to touring stretched all the way in which again to his early skilled days, when he was a nomadic people musician honing his efficiency expertise on the highway. Within the late Nineteen Fifties, Crosby began acting at coffeehouses in Santa Barbara, Calif., however quickly started touring across the U.S., popping up in southern Florida, Chicago and Boulder, Colo. Crosby additionally spent a formative interval in Greenwich Village, the place he teamed as much as play on the then-new Bitter Finish with Chicago musician Terry Callier.

His lengthy and profitable solo profession however, Crosby thrived on collaboration — a trait he found as a younger youngster, after being mesmerized by a symphony orchestra efficiency. “The concept of cooperative effort to make one thing greater than anyone individual might ever do was caught in my head,” he wrote in his 1988 autobiography, Lengthy Time Gone. “That is why I like being a concord singer, why I like being in a gaggle.”

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Crosby’s first massive successes got here as a founding member of expansive California country-folk troupe The Byrds. The group hit its industrial peak throughout his tenure, incomes two No. 1 singles — covers of Pete Seeger‘s “Flip! Flip! Flip!” and Bob Dylan‘s “Mr. Tambourine Man” — and reaching the Prime 20 with the stormy traditional “Eight Miles Excessive.” Crosby co-wrote the latter, and penned a number of different memorable Byrds songs, together with the lilting, jangly “Girl Good friend.” He was instrumental in serving to the group develop its harmony-rich vocal method and kaleidoscopic sound, which included psychedelic rock, jazz and twangy people, and has taken credit score for introducing bandmate Roger McGuinn to the music of John Coltrane and Ravi Shankar.

In 1967, Crosby was fired from The Byrds over rising persona and artistic conflicts (though he later returned to provide and carry out on 1973’s Byrds). At free ends, he immersed himself in crusing, certainly one of his childhood passions, shopping for a schooner for $25,000 with cash borrowed from The Monkees’ Peter Tork. The boat can be a supply of solace and inspiration for many years; he wrote songs together with “Wood Ships,” “The Lee Shore” and “Web page 43” whereas on board.

Crosby was born Aug. 14, 1941, and grew up in Southern California. His father was cinematographer Floyd Crosby, who received an Academy Award for his work on 1931’s Tabu: A Story of the South Seas, in addition to a Golden Globe for 1952’s Excessive Midday. (Crosby himself would affect one other notable nook of Hollywood: He typically stated that Dennis Hopper took inspiration from his look and perspective for 1969’s Simple Rider.)

As a child, Crosby fell exhausting for The Everly Brothers, the genesis of his lifelong fascination with shut concord, additional cemented by his household’s common singalong classes. His older brother, Ethan, launched him to jazz, a style he would contact on all through his profession, together with together with his late ’90s / early 2000s band CPR and on a ruminative 2017 solo album, Sky Trails.

Crosby’s formative influences grew to become extra outstanding in his partnership with Stephen Stills and Graham Nash, with whom he explored novel methods of expressing concord. The three singers discovered themselves exiting profitable bands that have been imploding: Graham Nash wished out of the pop-rock group The Hollies and Stephen Stills had departed Buffalo Springfield together with Neil Younger simply as Crosby had simply been kicked out of The Byrds. In a 2019 interview with NPR, Crosby stated that all of them realized that they had one thing particular. “Crosby, Stills and Nash — we knew immediately,” he stated. “As quickly as we sang certainly one of Stephen’s songs, you already know he is an important songwriter. As quickly as Nash placed on the highest half we stated, ‘Yeah, OK, that is what I will be doing for some time!'”

In Lengthy Time Gone, he deconstructed their distinctive vocal method with typical concision, noting the group sang “nonparallel stuff” influenced by classical music, late ’50s and early ’60s jazz and the Everlys. “I did a few of my best possible work being delicate, shifting the center half round in inner shifts that saved it taking place,” he wrote. Crosby’s ocean-clear tenor meshed seamlessly with the voices of Stills and Nash in hushed and haunting methods, notably on his personal “Guinnevere.” His songwriting contributions additionally pushed the band in new instructions — specifically, the rhythmic cadences of “Déjà Vu” and the free preparations and boho instrumental tone of “Wood Ships.”

As a trio, Crosby, Stills and Nash was each commercially and critically adored. Its self-titled 1969 debut led to an efficiency at Woodstock and a Grammy for greatest new artist, whereas 1970’s Déjà Vu — by which level Neil Younger had joined, including one other letter to the band’s title — touched on each the comforts of custom and the seismic generational shifts that have been underway. Months after Déjà Vu‘s launch, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Younger would grow to be a number one voice of the nation’s anti-war motion, recording the Younger-penned “Ohio” in response to the Could 1970 capturing of 4 college students at Kent State College.

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Younger, recording in 1970.

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Crosby, Stills, Nash & Younger, recording in 1970.

RB/Redferns

Through the years, Crosby — who was inducted into the Rock & Roll Corridor of Fame twice, as a member of The Byrds and of CSN — continued performing with numerous collaborators, with Nash serving as his steadiest foil effectively into the mid-2010s. Ever opinionated and brutally trustworthy, he was an open guide about his private flaws and failings, in addition to how he felt about his friends. This no-nonsense persona made him each endearing and prickly, particularly as a bandmate — CSNY’s inner disagreements have been legendary. However in later years, it made him a pure for the concise and quippy nature of Twitter. Crosby shared wide-ranging ideas about politics and music on the platform, and answered fan questions, each about his personal profession (he advised one fan he “was not the precise man for the job” when requested whether or not it was true that he was purported to have labored on Leonard Cohen’s second album) and about these in his orbit (“Was Jerry Garcia a tenor?” Reply: “Tenor/baritone.”). Such lovable terseness even landed him an recommendation column in Rolling Stone.

Crosby’s profession was marked by numerous reinventions and second probabilities. Years of well-documented substance abuse led to tumultuous relationships out and in of music, a number of arrests and a nine-month stint in a Texas jail within the ’80s.

He began utilizing heroin after a girlfriend, Christine Hinton, was killed in a automotive crash in 1969. He would add copious quantities of cocaine — typically freebasing the drug — and commenced a protracted, gradual spiral. In 2019, he advised NPR that well-known mates together with Nash and Jackson Browne had tried interventions.

“That did not work both,” he stated. “There is a sure second that you’ve got when you already know you merely cannot go on, cannot go any additional down that highway. Within the conferences they inform you it is a second of readability. No matter you wanna name it, there’s a second.”

Crosby’s second got here with the “assist” of a Texas jail. Paranoid and dealing with 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 drug and weapons expenses, however did lower than a 12 months. Throughout his 5 months behind bars in Texas, he lastly kicked heroin.

“Going to jail labored,” he stated in 2019. “I do not advocate it. It is a exhausting, exhausting, exhausting option to kick. They laughed at me and thought it was humorous. ‘Hey rock star, how are you now?'”

Remarkably, his voice remained sturdy and unweathered, a reality Crosby himself discovered inexplicable, as he defined to Cameron Crowe within the 2019 documentary David Crosby: Keep in mind My Identify. But the movie additionally mirrored loads of humility, portraying a musician dealing with his mortality by attempting to not dwell on the previous. Within the movie, he advised Crowe, “All the principle guys that I made music with will not even discuss to me. All of them.”

“I’ve damage lots of people,” Crosby advised NPR that very same 12 months. “I’ve helped much more. I simply have to have the ability to take a look at it and perceive it and study from it. I am not beating myself up about any of it. Honestly, I am truly fairly pleased with the man I’m now. I am attempting actual exhausting to be a good human being. And I prefer it.”



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