Legendary musician David Crosby died on Wednesday, January 18, 2023 after a long illness. In a statement to Variety, his widow Jan Dance said: “It is with great sadness after a long illness, that our beloved David (Croz) Crosby has passed away. 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.”
In a tribute shared on Twitter, Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys wrote that he was “heartbroken” and “at a loss for words”.
Crosby was the recipient of a highly publicized liver transplant in 1994, which was paid for by Phil Collins. News of his transplant created some controversy because of his celebrity status and his past problems with drug and alcohol addiction. Crosby’s liver problems stemmed from a long run with hepatitis C.
Crosby suffered from Type 2 diabetes and was treated with insulin to manage the disease. At a concert in October 2008, Crosby, looking much thinner than in recent years, announced to the audience that he had recently shed 55 pounds (25 kg) as a result of his struggles with the disease.
In February 2014, at the urging of his doctor, Crosby postponed the final dates of his solo tour in order to undergo a cardiac catheterization and angiogram, based on the results of a routine cardiac stress test.,
In addition to his solo career, Crosby was a founding member of both the Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash. Crosby joined the Byrds in 1964. They got their first #1 hit in April 1965 with a cover of Bob Dylan;s Mr. Tambourine Man”. The singer, guitarist and songwriter was part of the original lineup of the Byrds and appeared on their first five albums, including the 1965 hit cover of Bob Dylan’s “Mr Tambourine Man.”
He also co-founded the folk rock supergroup Crosby, Stills & Nash along with fellow musicians Stephen Stills and Graham Nash. They later added Canadian singer-songwriter Neil Young to the lineup,
In a Facebook post, Nash recalled the focus on their sometimes-volatile relationship — Crosby lashed out at him publicly as recently as two years ago in an interview with the Guardian — but said that the “pure joy” of making music with Crosby was what mattered most.
“David was fearless in life and in music,” Nash said. “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.”
David Van Cortlandt Crosby was born on November 14, 1941 in Los Angeles, California, the son of Oscar-winning cinematography Floyd Crosby, who formerly worked on Wall Street, and Aliph Van Cortlandt Whitehead, a salesperson at Macy’s department store. His father was a relative of the Van Rensselaer family, and his mother—granddaughter of Bishop of Pittsburgh Cortlandt Whitehead—descended from the prominent Van Cortlandt family; they “regularly inhabited the New York society pages before their wedding”.
Crosby was the younger brother of musician Ethan Crosby. Growing up in California, he attended several schools, including the University Elementary School in Los Angeles, the Crane Country Day School in Montecito, and Laguna Blanca School in Santa Barbara for the rest of his elementary school and junior high. At Crane, he starred in “HMS Pinafore” and other musicals but was asked not to return because of his lack of academic progress. Crosby did not graduate from the Cate School in Carpinteria. In 1960, his parents divorced, and his father married Betty Cormack Andrews.
Crosby briefly studied drama at Santa Barbara City College before dropping out to pursue a career in music. He performed with singer Terry Callier in Chicago and Greenwich Village, but the duo failed to obtain a recording contract. He also performed with Les Baxter’s Balladeers around 1962. With the help of producer Jim Dickson, Crosby recorded his first solo session in 1963.
Crosby joined the Byrds in 1964, but was dismissed from the band three years later. In 2019 documentary “Remember My Name”, Byrds member Roger McGuinn described Crosby and his on-stage political rants as “insufferable”, with fellow band member Chris Hillman saying he had a superiority complex.
Crosby discovered Joni Mitchell playing in a Florida club in 1967, helping her get a record deal and producing her first album, “Song to a Seagull.” The pair were romantically involved. He recently described Mitchell as “the best singer-songwriter … I don’t think anybody comes close”.
Around the time of Crosby’s departure from the Byrds, he met a recently unemployed Stephen Stills at a party at the home of Cass Elliot (of the Mamas and the Papas) in California in March 1968, and the two started meeting informally and jamming together. They were soon joined by Graham Nash, who would leave his commercially successful group the Hollies to play with Crosby and Stills.
Crosby, Stills & Nash, sold millions of copies of their first two albums: their self-titled debut in 1969, and (joined by Neil Young) Déjà Vu the following year. Their appearance at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair in August 1969 constituted only their second live performance.
In December 1969, Crosby appeared with CSNY at the Altamont Free Concert, increasing his visibility after also having performed at Monterey Pop and Woodstock. At the beginning of 1970, he briefly joined with Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh and Mickey Hart from Grateful Dead, billed as “David and the Dorks”, and making a live recording at the Matrix on December 15, 1970.
Crosby’s first solo album came out in 1971, “If I Could Only Remember My Name,” featuring contributions by Nash, Young, Joni Mitchell, and members of Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead, and Santana. Panned on release by Rolling Stone, it has been reappraised amid the emergence of the freak folk and New Weird America movements and remains in print. In a 2010 list of the Best Albums published by the Vatican City newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, “If I Could Only Remember My Name” came in second to the Beatles’ “Revolver.”
In 1973, Crosby reunited with the original Byrds for the album Byrds, with Crosby acting as the album’s producer. The album charted well (at #20, their best album showing since their second album) but was generally not perceived to be a critical success. It marked the final artistic collaboration of the original band.
Renewing his ties to the San Francisco milieu that had abetted so well on his solo album, Crosby sang backup vocals on several Paul Kantner and Grace Slick albums from 1971 through 1974 and the Hot Tuna album “Burgers” in 1972. He also participated in composer Ned Lagin’s proto-ambient project Seastones along with members of the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Starship.
Crosby worked with Phil Collins occasionally from the late 1980s to the early 1990s. He sang backup to Collins in “That’s Just the Way It Is” and “Another Day in Paradise”, and, on his own 1993 song, “Hero”, from his album “Thousand Roads,” Collins sang backup. In 1992, Crosby sang backup on the album “Rites of Passage” with the Indigo Girls on tracks 2 and 12. In 1999, he appeared on “Return of the Grievous Angel: A Tribute to Gram Parsons,” singing a duet of the title track with Lucinda Williams.
He released a few more solo records through the 80s and 90s, before a 20-year break and a prolific late-life period, with five coming out since 2014.
In 1983, Crosby was convicted of possession of cocaine and a loaded pistol. He fled California to Florida after being released on bail, eventually turning himself into police in December 1985. He served five months of his five-year sentence before being released on parole. This jail sentence was how he got clean. “If you see somebody who’s doing heroin, they’re in pain,” he said in 2021. “I haven’t had a hard drug near me in 35 to 40 years. I’m very glad I got past it.”
In the same interview, Crosby admitted that after surviving alcohol, cocaine and heroin addictions for many years, he “expected to be dead” at 30. “My skin is like tissue paper, man. It tears or bruises. It’s just part of being old.”
In January 2000, Melissa Etheridge announced that Crosby was the sperm donor of two children with her partner Julie Cypher by means of artificial insemination. On May 13, 2020, Etheridge announced on her Twitter that her and Cypher’s son Beckett had died of causes related to opioid addiction at the age of 21.
In 2006, Crosby and Nash worked with David Gilmour as backing vocalists on the latter’s third solo album, “On an Island.” The album was released in March 2006 and reached #1 on the UK charts. They also performed live with Gilmour in his concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London in May 2006 and toured together in the United States, as can be seen on Gilmour’s 2007 DVD “Remember That Night.” They also sang backup on the title track of John Mayer’s 2012 album “Born And Raised.”
Crosby, Stills, and Nash appeared together on a 2008 episode of The Colbert Report, and “Neil Young” joined them during the musical performance at the end of the episode. However, eventually, it became clear that it was only Stephen Colbert impersonating Young as the group sang “Teach Your Children”.
Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young disbanded in 2016 after years of rivalry and tension. In a 2021 interview with the Guardian, Crosby described Graham Nash as “definitely my enemy” and Neil Young as “the most self-centered, self-obsessed, selfish person I know”.
In January 2014, Crosby released his first solo album in 20 years, Croz, recorded in close collaboration with his son James Raymond (of CPR) at the latter’s home studio. On July 14, 2016, Crosby announced a new solo album named “Lighthouse,” which was released on October 21, 2016, and shared a new track from it titled “Things We Do For Love”. The album was produced by Michael League of the big band Snarky Puppy, whom he met on Twitter, and also featured contributions by future collaborators Becca Stevens and Michelle Willis.
In September 2017, Crosby announced a solo album (his third one of original material in four years and his sixth in total) entitled Sky Trails, again with Raymond, to be released on September 29, 2017, on BMG.
In April 2018, Crosby appeared on NPR’s “Live from Here,” playing duets with host Chris Thile. On October 26, 2018, Crosby released “Here If You Listen” on BMG, his first collaborative album with Michael League, Becca Stevens, and Michelle Willis, all members of the Lighthouse Band. The band also toured from November to December that same year.
Crosby was the subject of the documentary film “David Crosby: Remember My Name” which premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Crosby mentioned that Cameron Crowe, who asked the interview questions for the film, knew “where the bones are buried.” Following the premiere of the film, Crosby toured as David Crosby & Friends from May to September 2019.
In July 2021 Crosby released what would become his final studio album, “For Free.” This was followed by the release of the 50th-anniversary expanded version of “If I Could Only Remember My Name” on October 15. It contains remastered songs as well as demos from the original recording sessions. During promotion for the re-release Crosby said that his second collaborative album with League, Stevens, and Willis was in the works. The result, Crosby’s final release, was a live album recorded during the band’s tour, “Live At the Capitol Theater,” released October 4, 2022.
produced and co-written with James Raymond, a son Crosby didn’t know he had until Raymond was 30, after he was given up for adoption by his mother after birth. Raymond had been a musician for 20 years before he discovered who his father was, and tracked him down. The pair also released albums with the Lighthouse Band.
“He gave me a chance to earn my way into his life … by making music with him,” Crosby told the Guardian. “Imagine how I feel about my son being that good a writer. I wear it like a garland of flowers on my head. It’s just f***ing wonderful.”
“For Free” was followed by the release of the 50th-anniversary expanded version of “If I Could Only Remember My Name” on October 15. It contains remastered songs as well as demos from the original recording sessions. During promotion for the re-release Crosby said that his second collaborative album with League, Stevens, and Willis was in the works. The result, Crosby’s final release, was a live album recorded during the band’s tour, “Live At the Capitol Theater”, released October 4, 2022.
In 1996, Crosby formed CPR or Crosby, Pevar & Raymond with session guitarist Jeff Pevar, and pianist James Raymond, Crosby’s son. The group released two studio albums and two live albums before disbanding in 2004.
The first song that Crosby and Raymond co-wrote, “Morrison”, was performed live for the first time in January 1997. The song recalled Crosby’s feelings about the portrayal of Jim Morrison in the movie “The Doors”. The success of the 1997 tour spawned a record project, “Live at Cuesta College”, released in March 1998. There is a second CPR studio record, “Just Like Gravity,” and another live recording, “Live at the Wiltern,” recorded at the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles, which also features Phil Collins and Graham Nash.
After the group split, Raymond continued to perform with Crosby as part of the touring bands for C&N and CSN, as well as on solo Crosby projects, including 2014’s Croz and the subsequent tour, for which he served as musical director. Jeff Pevar has toured with many artists over his productive career, including CSN, Ray Charles, Joe Cocker, Marc Cohn, Phil Lesh & Friends, Jazz Is Dead, Rickie Lee Jones, Jefferson Starship and Bette Midler. Pevar has a solo record, From the Core, which was improvised and recorded in the Oregon Caves and features the vocalist from Yes, Jon Anderson.
Crosby reunited with the other two members of CPR in 2018 as David Crosby & Friends, performing a series of shows in support of Crosby’s new album “Skytrails.” During the global pandemic, Crosby also hosted a podcast for the Osiris music network
Crosby was famously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice and five albums to which he contributed were included in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
“The important stuff in my life isn’t the troubles I’ve had, it’s the magic that’s happened to me,” Crosby:once marveled.

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