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.
"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."
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.
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.
Also featuring Gene Clark, Rogen 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 Lauren 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 the often-cantankerous Crosby would find far greater commercial success with his next group.
He teamed with fellow Lauren Canyon denizens Stills and Nash to form Crosby, Stills & Nash, whose eponymous 1969 debut album went Top 10. Featuring sparkling, often magical harmonies, the disc included such classic tracks as "Suite: Judy BLue Eyes" and "Marrakech Express" — both of which were Top 30 pop hits — and the LP has has sold more than 4 million copies in the U.S. alone.
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 remains one of rock's most treasured albums, 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 the intra-band relationships often 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. Thery 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 a 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.
Born on August 14, 1941, in Los Angeles, Crosby played up his contrarian image and often rankled bandmate, friends, executives and others.
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