David Crosby, the legendary singer-songwriter and member of bands including the Byrds and Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young, has died at the age of 81, according to a statement shared 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.”
Born in Los Angeles on August 14, 1941, Crosby joined his bandmates Roger McGuinn, Gene Clark, Chris Hillman, and Michael Clarke in the Byrds in 1964. He contributed to the Byrds’ first five albums and played on their No. 1 hits ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’ and ‘Turn! Turn! Turn!’, but after he appeared on stage at the Monterey Pop Festival with Buffalo Springfield and spread various John F. Kennedy assassination conspiracy theories, Crosby was dismissed from the band.
Though the Byrds helped define the sound of 1960s folk-rock, Crosby’s biggest success came as part of the supergroup Crosby, Stills, and Nash, which he formed in 1968 with Buffalo Springfield’s Stephen Stills and The Hollies’ Graham Nash. After releasing their eponymous debut album in 1969, the group won the Grammy Award for Best New Artist and enlisted Neil Young for live performances, including Woodstock. Before breaking up due to internal conflict, the quartet recorded their 1970 album Déjà Vu.
Crosby then started working on his solo debut, 1971’s If I Could Only Remember My Name, which peaked at No. 12 and featured guest appearances from Young, Joni Mitchell, and members of Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead, and Santana. Crosby collaborated with Nash through the ’70s as Crosby & Nash and occasionally reunited with his CSNY bandmates. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s final album as a quartet was 1999’s Looking Forward.
Crosby struggled with drug abuse for many years, which led to him spending time in prison in Texas on drug and weapons charges in the mid-1980s. 18 years after his solo debut, Crosby returned with Oh Yes I Can, followed by Thousand Roads in 1993. His 2014 record Croz began a late-career renaissance that continued with 2016’s Lighthouse and 2017’s Sky Trails. Crosby’s most recent solo album, For Free, came out last year.
Crosby has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, first as a member of the Byrds in 1991 and then with Crosby Stills and Nash in 1997.
“It is with a deep and profound sadness that I learned that my friend David Crosby has passed,” Graham Nash wrote in a statement. “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 continued. “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.”
In a statement of his own, Stephen Stills wrote: “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.”