- 20 Jan 23
“He was without question a giant of a musician, and his harmonic sensibilities were nothing short of genius," says his friend and bandmate Stephen Stills
The music world has woken up to the terrible news that another of its legendary figures, David Crosby, has died following a long illness. He was 81.
His wife, Jan Dance, confirmed internet rumours of his passing in a statement made to America's Variety magazine, which reads: "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."
This was the cue for his peers and musical disciples to pay tribute to his abundant talents.
Says his old pal and bandmate Stephen Stills: "“David and I butted heads a lot over time, but they were mostly glancing blows, yet still left us 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.”
Moments later, another of his bandmates, Graham Nash, added: " “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.”
"I don’t know what to say other than I’m heartbroken to hear about David Crosby," Brian Wilson reflects. "David was an unbelievable talent - such a great singer and songwriter. And a wonderful person. I just am at a loss for words. Love & Mercy to David’s family and friends. Love, Brian."
Adds Steve Van Zandt: "As a member of The Byrds, he was one of the historically essential artists that created the artform of rock. The Byrds, Bob Dylan, Beatles, Stones, Kinks, Who, Beach Boys and Yardbirds showed future generations like us what was possible. We owe him, and them, everything."
Closer to home, Waterboy Mike Scott says: "It's true. Coz is gone. Passed over. Travel on well, man, and fly your freak flag in the next world."
Despite being unwell, David had been active on social media with tweets recently praising Greta Thunberg ("She is brave... nothing less); dissing MAGA politicians in the States ("Rampant self-interest"); and just two days ago reacted to a list of reasons why people don't make it into heaven with an arch, "I heard the place is overrated - cloudy."
He'd also fuelled hopes of a recovery by saying he was energised by the great music out there at the moment and wanted to make another album and play live again. Sadly, it wasn't to be...
The second son of Academy Award-winning cinematographer Floyd Crosby, David was born in Los Angeles in 1941 and after flunking out of college headed to Chicago and then Greenwich Village in New York where he performed with another young coffee shop hopeful, Terry Callier.
Although they failed to bag a record deal, it was Callier who introduced Crosby to his future Byrds bandmate, Roger McGuinn.
Commencing with their 1965 cover of Bob Dylan's 'Mr. Tambourine Man', The Byrds went on to become one of America's biggest hit-making machines with the likes of 'I See You', 'All I Really Want To Do', 'So You Want To Be A Rock 'N' Roll Star', 'Turn! Turn! Turn!' and 'Eight Miles High' becoming instant classics.
When relations with his bandmates soured, David went on to become part of Crosby, Stills and Nash whose eponymous 1969 album spawned two more monster hits in the shape of 'Marrakesh Express' and 'Suite: Judy Blue Eyes'.
Later that year they added Neil Young to the line-up, played their second gig at Woodstock and became standard-bearers for the counterculture movement in the States.
Their first album with Young on board, Déjà Vu, contained a further trio of hits - 'Woodstock', 'Teach Your Children' and 'Our House', which have endured to this day. Radio Luxembourg listeners might remember the station closing down for many years with 'Teach Your Children', which featured Grateful Dead man Jerry Garcia on pedal steel guitar and got a run out in 1992 when Crosby, Stills & Nash played Dublin's Point Theatre.
After a period of inactivity and Young departed, CSN scored one of their biggest commercial hits with Daylight Again, the 1982 collection that included 'Southern Cross' and 'Wasted On The Way' and introduced them to the MTV generation.
Twice inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame for his Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash output, David participated in 2000, 2002 and 2006's full-scale Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young reunions and then recorded both as a solo artist and with Nash.
His eighth solo studio album, For Free, was released in July 2021 and included input from Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, Donald Fagen and Michael McDonald who sang with him on 'River Rise'.
He was, by his own admission, a volatile character and fell foul of the law on drug possession and illegal firearms charges, leading to a period of incarceration. Despite - or perhaps because of - those flaws, David was a consistently brilliant songwriter and much-loved by both fans and those in his inner circle.
Here are more of the tributes that have been paid to him:
— Nils Lofgren (@nilslofgren) January 20, 2023
I can't begin to say how influential Crosby, Stills and Nash were for me. I'm grateful David Crosby lived, and so very sad he's gone.
— rosanne cash (@rosannecash) January 19, 2023
— Chuck D (@MrChuckD) January 20, 2023
"I don't like greed, I don't like ignorance. I really don't like anger. But I love love." - @thedavidcrosby
Rest in peace to the brilliant David Crosby. He will be greatly missed. 🕊
📸 Henry Diltz pic.twitter.com/6AXXTT8wcP
— Marianne Faithfull (@Faithfull_M) January 20, 2023
"25 years ago, David took me to rehab and saved my life - I wish I could have saved his this time. I will miss his humor, his intelligence, and his deep body of work." -Grace Slick
Photo courtesy of Getty Images. pic.twitter.com/oApS9cyCAt
— Grace Slick (@GraceSlick_JA) January 20, 2023