David Crosby dies at 81
Legendary singer/songwriter David Crosby has died at age 81, according to a statement released by his wife to Variety.
"It is with great sadness after a long illness, that our beloved David (Croz) Crosby has passed away," the statement reads. "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."
David Crosby was born in Los Angeles in 1941. In the early 1960s, he began performing as a folk music duo with with Terry Callier, who eventually introduced him to fellow folk singers Roger McGuinn and Gene Clark, with whom Crosby would form The Byrds in 1964. The Byrds fused their folk roots with the influence of The Beatles and other British rock bands, and their 1965 debut single--a cover of Bob Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man"--became widely considered one of the very first folk rock songs. Their version topped the charts in both the US and the UK, and it was followed that same year by their debut album of the same name. They supported the album on their first English tour, during which they met and befriended The Rolling Stones and The Beatles, and they became a noted influence on the sound of The Beatles' own pioneering folk rock album, Rubber Soul. The Byrds' second chart-topping single was a cover of Pete Seeger's "Turn! Turn! Turn!," which would also become the title track of their second album, released in December of 1965.
As The Byrds continued on, the band and especially David Crosby became interested in the music of Indian classical musician Ravi Shankar, jazz musician John Coltrane, and the burgeoning psychedelic movement, and those influences all came together in their 1966 single "Eight Miles High," one of the earliest psych-rock singles ever released, which Crosby co-wrote with Clark and McGuinn. The song became the lead single of the band's 1966 album Fifth Dimension, which saw an increased songwriting presence from Crosby, and which continued down the path of pioneering both psychedelic and raga rock. 1967's Younger Than Yesterday would go even further down this path, especially on David Crosby-written-and-sung songs like "Renaissance Fair" and "Mind Gardens." That same year, The Byrds performed at the now-legendary Monterey Pop Festival, during which tensions began to elevate between David Crosby and his bandmates due to his stage banter about politicians and psychedelic drug use, and his filling in with Buffalo Springfield during the festival.
Tensions continued into the making of 1968's The Notorious Byrd Brothers, when the band rejected "Triad," Crosby's song about a threesome, which Crosby then gave to Jefferson Airplane to record instead. He was fired from The Byrds in October of 1967.
After Crosby's dismissal from The Byrds, he linked up with Buffalo Springfield's Stephen Stills and The Hollies' Graham Nash and formed the supergroup Crosby, Stills & Nash, who released their classic self-titled debut album in 1969, home to Crosby compositions like "Guinnevere" and "Wooden Ships" (with Stephen Stills and Jefferson Airplane's Paul Kantner), as well as their big hit "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes." Later that year, Neil Young would join the group, and they'd release the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young album Déjà Vu in 1970.
In 1971, David Crosby released his first solo album, the cult classic If I Could Only Remember My Name. It was made with members of CSNY, the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Santana, and Joni Mitchell, and though it wasn't as popular as CSNY or The Byrds in real time, it's become massively influential over the years.
Throughout the 1970s, David Crosby released three duo albums with Graham Nash and reunited with The Byrds for 1973's Byrds. The original CSN trio regrouped for 1977's CSN, and various other CSN and CSNY albums would come throughout the '80s and '90s. In 1996, he formed the band CPR (Crosby, Pevar & Raymond) with Jeff Pevar and James Raymond, who released two studio albums and two live albums. The final, self-titled, Crosby & Nash album came in 2004.
Crosby also released two more solo albums, 1989's Oh Yes I Can, and 1993's Thousand Roads, before re-activating his solo career in the 2010s for his most prolific run as a solo artist, with 2014's Croz, 2016's Lighthouse, 2017's Sky Trails, 2018's Here If You Listen, and 2021's For Free. We interviewed Crosby surrounding the release of Lighthouse.
Crosby put out several other releases of the course of his 50+ year career and did so much touring with his various bands, and it's really impossible to overstate how groundbreaking and influential he was as both a musician and public icon. He's a musician who helped create multiple subgenres of music, influenced The Beatles in real time, and influenced so many musicians who came decades after Croz first hit the scene. He'll be missed, and his impact won't be forgotten.
Rest in peace, Croz.