Legendary Byrds And Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Singer Was 81 – Deadline

David Crosby, the two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Famer who sang for The Byrds before co-founding a supergroup with Stephen Stills and Graham Nash — later adding Neil Young — has died. He was 81. His wife Jan announced the news today.

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“It is with great sadness after a long illness, that our beloved David (Croz) Crosby has passed away,” she said in a statement. “He was lovingly surrounded by his wife and soulmate Jan and son Django. Although he is no longer here with us, his humanity and kind soul will continue to guide and inspire us. His legacy will continue to live on through his legendary music. Peace, love, and harmony to all who knew David and those he touched. We will miss him dearly. At this time, we respectfully and kindly ask for privacy as we grieve and try to deal with our profound loss. Thank you for the love and prayers.”

The famously cantankerous Crosby rose to fame as a singer and guitarist for The Byrds, the influential Los Angeles-based folk-rock band that melded a groundbreaking guitar sound with eloquent melodies. He spent three years with the group from 1964-67, singing on its many hits including the chart-topping covers “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “Turn! Turn! Turn!” Those also were the titles of The Byrds’ first two LPs, with Mr. Tambourine Man reaching the U.S. Top 10.

Also featuring Gene Clark, Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman, The Byrds were a major influence on the burgeoning L.A. folk-rock scene that would help feed the country-rock genre epitomized by the Laurel Canyon acts of the late ’60s and early 1970s and such groups as Eagles and The Flying Burrito Brothers, the latter also featuring Hillman.

But Crosby’s admittedly grating personality led to his dismissal from the band. Tensions had boiled over at the legendary Monterey Pop Festival, when he offered long between-song monologues during The Byrds’ set and later filled in for Young during rival L.A. band Buffalo Springfield’s set.

But Crosby, with his signature long hair, bushy moustache and iconoclastic views, would find far greater commercial success with his next group.

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He teamed with fellow Laurel Canyon denizens Stills and Nash to form Crosby, Stills & Nash, whose eponymous 1969 debut album went Top 10. Featuring sparkling, often magical harmonies, the quadruple-platinum disc included such classic tracks as “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” and “Marrakesh Express” — both of which were Top 30 pop hits — and was up for Album of the Year at the Grammys. The group won for Best New Artist. It would mark Crosby lone win among 10 career nominations that started with Best New Artists for The Byrds in 1965.

Joined in 1970 by Canada expat and Buffalo Springfield alum Young, the now-quartet would score three consecutive No. 1 albums: studio set Déjà Vu (1970), the live 4-Way Street (1971) and compilation disc So Far (1974). The debut disc also was Grammy-nominated for album of the Year and remains one of rock’s most treasured LPs, spawning such stone classics as “Teach Your Children,” “Ohio,” “Carry On,” “Our House” and the Joni Mitchell cover “Woodstock.” Mitchell would open on the group’s first concert tour.

But intra-band relationships usually were fraught, and the group soon would disintegrate — though the bandmates would reconvene in various configurations for decades to come.

Crosby put out his first solo album in 1971, with If Only I Could Remember My Name reaching No. 12 on the Billboard 200, and the various members of CSN&Y carried on with separate careers. Crosby and Nash teamed as Graham Nash/David Crosby for a pair of Top 10 albums in 1972 and 1975, with 1976’s Whistling Down the Wire making the Top 30.

Crosby, Stills & Nash re-formed for 1977’s CSN, which spent four weeks at No. 2 and generated the trio’s first Top 10 single in “Just a Song Before I Go.” It also went quadruple-platinum. Their next set, 1981’s Replay, failed to click, but the next year’s follow-up, Daylight Again, brought them back into public favor, peaking at No. 8 and including their second Top 10 single in “Wasted on the Way.” A second single, “Southern Cross,” featured a gorgeous vocal and melody from Stills and made the Top 20.

The group would follow with Allies (1983), but the mid-’80s were a setback for Crosby. Convicted of multiple weapons and drug charges, he spent nine months in Texas state prison in 1985. That same year he was arrested again on DUI, hit and run and other charges. They were among his many run-ins with the law over the years.

But CSN&Y would re-emerge in 1988 with American Dream, which brought them back to rock radio in a big way. The title track made the Top 5 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart, and the follow-up single, “Got It Made,” spent two weeks atop that tally.

The key members continued to reunite in ensuing decades, with CSN releasing three albums from 1990-98 and Young rejoining them for 1999’s Looking Forward. In 2006, the four embarked on the Freedom of Speech concert tour in support of Young’s solo album Living with War. The politically charged album and shows came ahead of the U.S. midterm elections, and the famously left-leaning bandmates played up the politics. A stop in California’s Orange County drew yells of disapproval from many in the crowd.

Born on August 14, 1941, in Los Angeles, Crosby played up his contrarian image and often rankled bandmates, friends, record executives and others. In the 2018 documentary Echo in the Canyon, Crosby said on-camera that the real reason he was fired from The Byrds was because he is “a jerk.”

But despite all the bitterness, Crosby in 1991 became the first recipient of the MusiCares Person of the Year award. The honor, which celebrates philanthropic work along with creative accomplishments, since has been presented to the likes of Young, Mitchell, Quincy Jones, Paulk McCartney, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Carole King and Fleetwood Mac, among others.

Crosby was the subject of his own documentary in 2019. Cameron Crowe produced David Crosby: Remember My Name, which premiered at Sundance and was acquired by Sony Pictures Classics after heated bidding. It was a warts-and-all portrait of a man with everything but an easy retirement on his mind — a self-examination of the life and career of a musical icon who was seeking a creative renaissance at age 77. Remember My Name expressed his regrets, fears, exuberance, faith in family and the transformative nature of music.

Also a part-time actor, Crosby played Tickles in Steven Spielberg’s Hook, was an aging hippie in Ron Howard’s Backdraft and appeared in Michael Apted’s Thunderheart. He also guested on such popular series as Ellen and Chicago Hope and voiced himself in two 1993 episodes of The Simpsons — presenting a Grammy to Homer’s barbershop quartet The Be Sharps and reassuring Marge’s attorney Lionel Hutz when consulted about her shoplifting case.

A popular and frequent contributor to Tweeter, Crosby just yesterday tweeted about his admiration for Greta Thunberg — and named his favorite Beatles song: “Eleanor Rigby”

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