Several media sites reported Thursday that David Crosby, the boisterous rock musician who went from a baby-faced harmony vocalist with the Byrds to a mustachioed hippy superstar and an enduring troubadour with Crosby, Stills, Nash & (sometimes) Young, had died at the age of 81.
The New York Times reported that Crosby died Wednesday night, citing a text message from his sister-in-law.
Several media sites reported Crosby’s death based on anonymous sources; the Associated Press was unable to contact Crosby’s agents or his widow.
After decades of drug abuse, Crosby got a liver transplant in 1994 and survived diabetes, hepatitis C, and heart surgery in his 70s.
The humorous and outspoken Crosby was at the forefront of the cultural change of the 1960s and 1970s, whether triumphing with Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, and Neil Young on stage at Woodstock or speaking on behalf of a hirsute generation in “Almost Cut My Hair” or “Long Time Gone.”
He was the originator and focal point of the Los Angeles rock music culture, from which artists like the Eagles and Jackson Browne eventually emerged. He was the model for Dennis Hopper’s long-haired stoner in “Easy Rider”; he was a twinkling-eyed hippy father.
He preached for peace, but was an unrepentant loudmouth who engaged in personal conflict and admitted that many of the artists with whom he worked no longer spoke to him.
“Crosby was a colorful and unpredictable character, wore a Mandrake the Magician cape, didn’t get along with too many people and had a beautiful voice — an architect of harmony,” Bob Dylan wrote in his 2004 memoir, “Chronicles: Volume One.”
Crosby’s drug usage left him obese, destitute, and alone. In 1985 and 1986, during a year-long jail sentence in Texas on drug and firearm charges, he overcame his addiction.
The conviction was ultimately reversed.
“I’ve always said that I picked up the guitar as a shortcut to sex and after my first joint I was sure that if everyone smoked dope there’d be an end to war,” Crosby said in his 1988 autobiography, “Long Time Gone,” co-written with Carl Gottlieb. “I was right about the sex. I was wrong when it came to drugs.”
In his seventies, he experienced a creative resurgence, releasing numerous solo albums and collaborating with others, notably his son James Raymond, who became a favorite songwriting collaborator.
“Most guys my age would have done a covers record or duets on old material,” he told Rolling Stone in 2013, shortly before “Croz” was released. “This won’t be a huge hit. It’ll probably sell nineteen copies. I don’t think kids are gonna dig it, but I’m not making it for them. I’m making it for me. I have this stuff that I need to get off my chest.”
Cameron Crowe produced the 2019 documentary David Crosby: Remember My Name, which featured Crosby.
While his solo career flourished, his relationship with Nash appeared to deteriorate. Crosby was enraged by Nash’s 2013 book “Wild Tales” (which he described as “whiny and dishonest”), and ties between the two deteriorated into a bitter public dispute, with Nash and Crosby agreeing on one point: Crosby, Stills, and Nash was no longer active.
More on this story via The Western Journal:
Donald Trump’s election as U.S. president did lead Crosby to suggest that he was open to a Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young protest tour, but his old bandmates declined to respond.
Crosby became a star in the mid-1960s with the seminal folk-rock group The Byrds, known for such hits as “Turn! Turn! Turn!” and “Mr. Tambourine Man.” Clean-cut and baby-faced at the time, he contributed harmonies that were a key part of the band’s innovative blend of The Beatles and Dylan. CONTINUE READING…