The founding member of The Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash is one of the last men actively standing from the 1960’s counter-culture generation
David Crosby turns 81: Looking back at his career and controversial life
David Crosby was born in Los Angeles, California on August 14, 1941 and for over 6 decades has been one of the most politically outspoken and controversial musicians from our time. The musician came to prominence during the mid 1960’s as the founding member and guitarist of The Byrds, the band that became one of the most successful 1960’s Rock acts, developing a genre crossing Folk and Rock that was named “Jangle” and influenced the West Coast Psychedelic sound as well as several other artists back then. The band first had their number one hit in 1965 with the Bob Dylan song “Mr.Tambourine Man”, which remains a popular song to this day. Other hits of the band included “Turn Turn Turn”, “My Back Pages”, “All I Really Want To Do” and “Eight Miles High” among many others. By 1967, tensions rising between Crosby and the rest of the band reached a climax when during the Monterey Pop Festival David Crosby played the Buffalo Springfield concert, replacing Neil Young, which upset the rest of The Byrds. After five albums with The Byrds, Crosby quits the band and forms Crosby, Stills & Nash in 1968 with Stephen Stills of Buffalo Springfield and Graham Nash of the Hollies. Their acclaimed debut album “CSN” won the Grammy Award for Best New Artist of 1969, and together played one of Woodstock’s most famous sets in 1969. For a while, Neil Young also joined the band, that then became Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.
Watch The Byrds performing their first big hit “Mr.Tambourine Man” in 1965 with David Crosby
Crosby launched his solo career in 1971 releasing the album “If I Could Only Remember My Name”, featuring collaborations with Graham Nash, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Jefferson Airplane and Santana. Throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s Crosby’s personal life started to severely interfere with his career, in particular his drug and alcohol addiction. In 1982 he was convicted of several drugs and weapons offenses and spent nine months in a Texas state prison. In 1985 was again in trouble with the law for an even more serious felony drunken driving which caused a hit-and-run driving accident, and possession of a concealed pistol and drug paraphernalia. And when it seemed old Crosby was finally settling, in 2004 he was charged again with criminal possession of a weapon and ammunition and illegal possession of about one ounce of marijuana. In 2000, lesbian artist Melissa Etheridge announced that Crosby was the biological father of two children with her then partner Julie Cypher by means of artificial insemination, the family all appeared together in the cover of some magazines back then, sadly one of the children, Beckett Cypher, died of a drug overdose at age 21 in 2020. In 2014 Crosby released “Croz”, his first album in 20 years and in 2018 his latest album “Here If You Listen”. Aside of drugs and alcohol and arrests, Crosby cannot help running away of controversy in almost every subject he touches. An active Twiter user, Crosby has strongly criticized the presidency of Donald Trump, declaring him to be “a dangerous guy who’s got a big ego”. More recently, he also was criticized by fans of The Doors when he slammed the band and their legendary lead singer on Twiter, writing that Jim Morrison was a “talentless poser” and how much he disliked The Doors music. Curiously, both The Byrds and The Doors played several concerts together back in the 1960’s and stated The Byrds influence on their music. One of the most controversial aspects of Crosby’s life was his liver transplant in 1994, which was paid by his friend Phil Collins. The transplant was highly publicized and sparkled controversy due to the fact of Crosby’s well known problems with drugs and alcohol.
Watch Crosby, Stills & Nash performing “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” live at the 1969 Woodstock Festival
It seems David Crosby has done it all, he’s one of the last standing men from the 1960’s Rock and Psychedelic music generation who still releases new music and tours, but in recent years, news about his health condition have not been favorable. Among some of the honors he received for his career, are two inductions to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, one for his work in the Byrds and another for his work with Crosby, Stills & Nash. Five of his albums, with The Byrds and CSN, are included in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Today he turns 81.
Also watch: David Crosby talks about being the biological father of Melissa Etheridge’s children
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