David Crosby, a singer-songwriter and co-founding member of the Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash, has died. He was 81.
No cause of death was given.
“It is with great sadness after a long illness, that our beloved David (Croz) Crosby has passed away,” the guitarist’s wife, Jan Dance, 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’s harmonies played a major role in the development of folk rock, country and the California sound that dominated rock music during the 1960s and ‘70s, Rolling Stone reported.
He formed the Byrds in 1964 with Roger McGuinn, Gene Clark, Chris Hillman and Michael Clarke. The band was originally called the Jet Set and then the Beefeaters before finally settling on the Byrds.
Crosby’s harmonizing was evident on the Byrds’ biggest hits, including “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “Turn! Turn! Turn!” Rolling Stone reported.
After leaving the Byrds, Crosby joined Stephen Stills of Buffalo Springfield and Graham Nash of the Hollies to form the supergroup Crosby, Stills & Nash, according to Variety. Their first album went multi-platinum, the entertainment news website reported.
Neil Young, another Buffalo Springfield alumnus, later joined the group for a brief time and the group changed its name to Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.
CSNY performed at Woodstock on Aug. 18, 1969.
The foursome did not survive as a band due to a clash of egos, but Crosby and Nash regularly collaborated after CSNY broke up.
“I know I have an ego,” Crosby wrote in his 1988 autobiography, “Long Time Gone.” “Opinions differ as to its health, size, and value.”
“It is with a deep and profound sadness that I learned that my friend David Crosby has passed,” Nash wrote in a statement posted to his social media account. “I know people tend to focus on how volatile our relationship has been at times, but what has always mattered to David and me more than anything was the pure joy of the music we created together, the sound we discovered with one another, and the deep friendship we shared over all these many long years.
“David was fearless in life and in music. He leaves behind a tremendous void as far as sheer personality and talent in this world. He spoke his mind, his heart, and his passion through his beautiful music and leaves an incredible legacy. These are the things that matter most. My heart is truly with his wife, Jan, his son, Django, and all of the people he has touched in this world.”
Crosby, while a successful musician, had a stormy personal life that was marred by heavy drug use, Rolling Stone reported. That led to a brief jail term in 1985, but after his release, Crosby continued touring for more than three decades.
In April 1982, he was arrested in a Dallas nightclub and charged with possessing a .45-caliber handgun and a pipe he used to freebase cocaine, according to Variety. He was also convicted of drunk driving in Northern California and convicted and fined for marijuana and firearms possession in 2004, according to the entertainment news website.
In 2015, Crosby hit a jogger with his car in Santa Ynez, California, but was not charged in the incident, Variety reported.
Crosby also underwent a liver transplant in 1994.
“I have no idea how I’m alive and Jimi (Hendrix) isn’t and Janis (Joplin) isn’t and all my other friends,” Crosby told Rolling Stone in 2014. “I have no idea why me, but I got lucky.”
Stills praised Crosby on Twitter.
“He was without a question a giant of a musician, and his harmonic sensibilities were nothing short of genius,” Stills wrote. “The glue that held us together as our vocals soared, like Icarus, towards the sun.”
Beach Boys singer Brian Wilson tweeted that he was “heartbroken” to hear about Crosby’s death.
“David was an unbelievable talent — such a great singer and songwriter, Wilson wrote. “And a wonderful person. I just am at a loss for words.”
Crosby was born in Los Angeles on Aug. 14, 1941. His father was an Academy Award-winning cinematographer, according to Rolling Stone. David Crosby briefly attended Santa Barbara City College but dropped out to pursue music.
In the 2019 documentary “David Crosby: Remember My Name,” Crosby was asked how he managed to keep going through the years, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“No idea, man,” he said.
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