David Crosby passes at age 81

(Once In A Blue Moon Festival Amsterdamse Bos, Amsterdam. The Netherlands August 25th 2018. Concert of David Crosby CREDIT: Shutterstock)

Grammy winner, 10-time Grammy Award nominee, two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and original founding member of the bands the Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash (later Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young) David Crosby has passed away at age 81. 

Fellow member of Crosby, Stills & Nash, Graham Nash confirmed Crosby’s passing in an Instagram post on Thursday which stated,

“It is with a deep and profound sadness that I learned that my friend David Crosby has passed. 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.”

Stephen Stills, also of Crosby, Stills & Nash wrote in a statement: 

“I read a quote in this morning’s paper attributed to composer Gustav Mahler that stopped me for a moment: ‘Death has, on placid cat’s paws, entered the room.’

“I shoulda known something was up. David and I butted heads a lot over time, but they were mostly glancing blows, yet still left us [with] numb skulls. I was happy to be at peace with him. He was without question a giant of a musician, and his harmonic sensibilities were nothing short of genius. The glue that held us together as our vocals soared, like Icarus, towards the sun. 

“I am deeply saddened at his passing and shall miss him beyond measure.”

David Van Cortlandt Crosby was born in Los Angeles, California on August 14, 1941. Crosby briefly studied drama at Santa Barbara City College before dropping out to pursue a career in music. By 1964, Crosby joined the Byrds and they had their first number-one hit in April 1965 with a cover of Mr. Tambourine Man by Bob Dylan. Crosby appeared on the Byrds’ first five albums and produced the original lineup’s 1973 reunion album.

In 1968 he formed Crosby, Stills & Nash with Stephen Stills and Graham Nash. In 1969 they added Neil Young to their band and became Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young. Their appearance at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair in August 1969 constituted only their second live performance ever. After the release of their debut album, CSN won the Grammy Award for Best New Artist of 1969. The album titled Crosby, Stills & Nash featured the Top 30 hits Marrakesh Express and Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.

As Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, the band released Déjà vu, which reached No. 1 on the Billboard 100, sold seven million copies and included their hit singles Woodstock, Teach Your Children, and Our House.

After the quartet’s live double-album, Four Way Street was released the group split up, however they reunited for a handful of performances thereafter.

Crosby and Nash went on to record four studio albums together, three of which were certified gold, and Crosby, Stills and Nash continued to perform and work together well into the 2000s.

In 2019, Cameron Crowe produced a documentary about the rock icon called Remember My Name. In an interview about the documentary, Crosby explained to Billboard why it made sense that his Byrds bandmate Roger McGuinn called him “insufferable.”

“I can be contentious. Opinionated. I’m comfortable with that,” Crosby conceded. “When you’re in a relationship like that in a band, it’s like a marriage… you start out, you love each other, you love each other’s music. You’re thrilled that you’re doing this, and every time you play music, you feel brotherhood with the other guys. In CSNY with Neil [Young] and Graham [Nash] and Stephen [Stills], we were a competitive band. Not cooperative/competitive. We were also very shitty to each other over and over and over again, unkind and disloyal.”

Crosby was very active on social media and ironically in one of his most recent tweets he said he heard heaven was overrated. 

Many took to social media to pay their respects:

Crosby leaves behind his wife, Jan, their son Django, as well as son, Raymond, and two daughters, Erika and Donovan, from past relationships.