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David Crosby

David Crosby on tour with CSNY in 2006.
Background information
Birth name David Van Cortlandt Crosby
Born August 14, 1941 (1941-08-14) (age 68)
Los Angeles, California, USA
Genres Folk rock
Occupations Singer
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1963 - Present
Labels Atlantic, A&M, Rhino
Associated acts The Byrds
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

David Van Cortlandt Crosby (born August 14, 1941) is an American guitarist, singer, and songwriter. He was a founding member of three bands: The Byrds; Crosby, Stills & Nash, which is sometimes augmented with Neil Young; and CPR. Crosby is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his work in the Byrds and CSN.



Early years

David Crosby was born in Los Angeles, California. His parents were Aliph Van Cortlandt Whitehead and Floyd Crosby, an Academy Award winning cinematographer. 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.[1] At Crane, he starred in HMS Pinafore and other musicals but was asked not to return due to lack of academic progress. He graduated from the Cate School in Carpinteria, completing his studies by correspondence. In 1960, his parents divorced, and his father was remarried to Betty Christie Crosby.

Crosby also attended Santa Barbara City College.[1] Originally, he was a drama student, but dropped out to pursue a career in music. He moved toward the same Greenwich Village scene (as a member of the Les Baxter's Balladeers) Bob Dylan participated in, and even shared a mentor of Bob Dylan's in a local scene favorite Fred Neil. With the help of producer Jim Dickson, Crosby cut his first solo session in 1963.

The Byrds

Crosby joined Jim McGuinn (who later changed his name to Roger) and Gene Clark, who were then named the Jet Set (although there is no evidence that they ever performed under that name). They were augmented by drummer Michael Clarke, at which point Crosby attempted to play bass unsuccessfully. Late in 1964, Chris Hillman joined as bassist, and Crosby relieved Gene Clark of rhythm guitar duties. Through connections that Jim Dickson (The Byrds' manager) had with Bob Dylan's publisher, the band obtained a demo acetate disc of Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man" and recorded a cover version of the song, featuring McGuinn's 12 string guitar as well as McGuinn, Crosby and Clark's vocal harmonizing.[2] The song turned into a massive hit, soaring to #1 in the charts in the U.S. and the U.K. during 1965.[2] While Roger McGuinn originated The Byrds' trademark 12 string guitar sound (which he in turn took from George Harrison on "A Hard Day's Night"), Crosby was responsible for the soaring harmonies and often unusual phrasing on their songs.

In 1966, Gene Clark, who then was the band's primary songwriter, left the group due to stress. This placed all the group's songwriting responsibilities in the hands of Crosby and McGuinn. Crosby took the opportunity to hone his craft, and soon blossomed into a prolific and talented songwriter. His early Byrds efforts included the classic 1966 hit "Eight Miles High", which he co-wrote with Clark and McGuinn, and its flip side, "Why" co-written with McGuinn, which showed Crosby at his hard-edged best.

Crosby is widely credited with popularizing the song "Hey Joe", after he picked it up from Dino Valente. He taught the song to Bryan MacLean and Arthur Lee of Love, who then taught it to members of The Leaves. Since he felt responsible for having popularized the song, Crosby convinced the other members of the Byrds to cover it on Fifth Dimension. By Younger Than Yesterday, the Byrds' album of 1967, Crosby clearly began to find his trademark style.

Friction between Crosby and the other Byrds came to a head in mid 1967. Tensions were high after the famous Monterey Pop Festival in June, when Crosby's on-stage political discources between songs generated ill-feeling. The next night he further annoyed McGuinn and Hillman when, at the invitation of Stephen Stills, he substituted for an absent Neil Young during Buffalo Springfield’s set. The internal conflict boiled over during recording of the album Notorious Byrd Brothers in August and September. Differences over song selections led to arguments, with Crosby being particularly adamant that the band should record only original material. McGuinn and Hillman dismissed Crosby in mid-September, after he refused to participate in the recording session of the Goffin and King song Goin' Back. Crosby's controversial menage-a-trois song "Triad", recorded by the band before his dismissal, was left off the album. Jefferson Airplane recorded "Triad" and released it on their album Crown of Creation in 1968. David Crosby sang a solo acoustic version on Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young's 1971 double live album Four Way Street. The Byrds' version appeared decades later on the 1988 Never Before release and is now available on the CD re-release of Notorious Byrd Brothers.

In 1973 Crosby reunited with the original Byrds for the album Byrds, with Crosby acting as the record's producer. The album failed to be a critical or commercial success, and marked the final artistic collaboration of the original band.

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

Crosby in 1974

Around the time of Crosby's firing, he met a recently unemployed Stephen Stills at a party at the home of Cass Elliot (Mama Cass) in California in March 1968, and the two started meeting informally together and jamming. They were soon joined by Graham Nash, who left his commercially successful group The Hollies to play with Crosby and Stills. Remarkably, their appearance at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair in August 1969 constituted their second live performance ever.

Their first album, Crosby, Stills & Nash of 1969 was an immediate hit, spawning two Top 40 hit singles and receiving key airplay on the new FM radio format, in its early days populated by unfettered disc jockeys who then had the option of playing entire albums at once.

The songs he wrote while with CSN include "Guinnevere," "Almost Cut My Hair," "Long Time Gone," and "Delta". He also co-wrote "Wooden Ships" with Paul Kantner of Jefferson Airplane and Stephen Stills.

In 1969, Neil Young joined the group, and with him they recorded the album Déjà Vu, which went to number 1 on the charts. That same year, Crosby's longtime girlfriend Christine Hinton was killed in a car accident only days after Hinton, Crosby, and fellow girlfriend Debbie Donovan moved from Los Angeles to the Bay Area. Crosby was devastated, and he began abusing drugs much more severely than he had before. Nevertheless, he still managed to contribute "Almost Cut My Hair" and the title track "Déjà Vu". After the release of the double live album Four Way Street, the group went on a temporary hiatus to focus on their respective solo careers.

In December 1969, David appeared with CSNY at the Altamont Free Concert hosted by The Rolling Stones, thus performing at all three of the iconic rock festivals of the 1960s, along with Monterey Pop and Woodstock. At the beginning of the new decade, he briefly did a stint with Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh and Mickey Hart from the Grateful Dead, performing together as "David and the Dorks," and making a live recording at the Matrix on December 15, 1970.

CSNY reunited in 1973 at the Winterland in San Francisco. This served as a prelude to their highly successful stadium tour in the summer of 1974. Prior to the tour, the foursome attempted to record a new album entitled Human Highway. The recording session, which took place at Neil Young's ranch, was very unpleasant, and marked by constant bickering. The bickering eventually became too much, and the album was cancelled.

In rehearsals for the 1974 tour, CSNY recorded a then-unreleased David Crosby song, "Little Blind Fish." A different version of the song would appear on the second CPR album more than two decades later.

The 1974 tour was also full of constant bickering, though they managed to finish it without interruption. A greatest hits compilation entitled So Far was released during 1974 to capitalize on the foursome's reunion tour.

In 1976, as separate duos, Crosby & Nash and Stills & Young were both working on respective albums and contemplated retooling their work to produce a CSNY album. This attempt ended bitterly as Stills and Young deleted Crosby and Nash's vocals from their album Long May You Run.

CSNY would not perform together again as a foursome until Live Aid in Philadelphia in 1985, and then performed only sporadically in the 1980s and '90s (mainly at the annual Bridge School Benefit organized by Young's wife Pegi). Without Young, however, Crosby, Stills & Nash has performed much more consistently since its reformation in 1977. The trio toured in support of their 1977 and 1982 albums CSN and Daylight Again and then, starting in the late-eighties, has toured regularly year after year. And while the group has continued to perform live to the present day, since 1982 it has released only four albums of new material: American Dream (1988, with Young), Live It Up (1990), After The Storm (1994), and Looking Forward (1999, with Young). In addition Crosby & Nash released the self-titled album Crosby & Nash in 2004.

Fullscale CSNY tours took place in 2000, 2002 and 2006.

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.

Solo career

In 1971, Crosby released his first solo album If I Could Only Remember My Name, featuring contributions by Nash, Young, Joni Mitchell, along with members of Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead, and Santana. Panned on release by Rolling Stone, it has received more critical respect with the passage of time and is still in print.

As a duo Crosby and Graham Nash have released four studio albums and two live albums including Another Stoney Evening, which features the duo in a 1971 acoustic performance with no supporting band.

Some other popular songs Crosby wrote in the 1970s include "Where Will I Be?", "Carry Me," "Bittersweet," "Time After Time," "Foolish Man," and "In My Dreams".

Renewing his ties to the San Francisco milieu that had abetted so well on his solo album, Crosby participated in electronica composer Ned Lagin’s proto-ambient project Seastones, along with members of the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Starship.[3] He also sang back up vocals on "Highway Song" from the Hot Tuna album Burgers. 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.

Crosby performing in 2006

In 2006 Crosby worked with David Gilmour in his third solo album: On an Island; along with Nash. You can hear Crosby and Nash sing along with Gilmour on the second track on the album "On an Island". The album was released in March 2006 and reached #1 quickly on the UK charts. Both Crosby and Nash also performed live with Gilmour in his concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London in May 2006 and toured together in the USA, which can be seen on Gilmour's 2007 DVD "Remember That Night".

Acting career

During the early 1990s, he appeared as a guest star in several episodes of The John Larroquette Show, where he played the part of John Hemingway's AA sponsor. He appeared on an episode of Roseanne as the singer husband of one of Roseanne's co-workers. He sang the Danny Sheridan composition "Roll On Down" on that episode. He was on an episode of Ellen called "Ellen Unplugged," where he was helping out at the Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp. He also appeared as a pirate in the 1991 film Hook, as a '70s Hippie in the 1991 film Backdraft, and as a bartender in the 1992 feature film, Thunderheart.

Crosby has also voiced himself on two episodes of The Simpsons, "Marge in Chains" and "Homer's Barbershop Quartet".

Medical issues

David was the recipient of a highly publicized liver transplant in 1995. News of his transplant created some controversy because of his celebrity and his past issues with drug and alcohol addiction.[4][5][6]

Crosby has diabetes and is being treated with insulin to manage this disease.

At a concert in October 2008, Crosby, looking quite thinner than in recent years, announced to the audience that he'd recently shed 55 pounds.

Drugs charges and prison time

In 1982, after appearing in criminal courts facing several drugs and weapons charges, Crosby spent 11 months in Texas prisons. The drug charges stemmed from charges related to possession of heroin and cocaine.

In 1985, David Crosby, on probation for drunken driving, was arrested for hit-and-run driving and possession of a concealed pistol and drug paraphernalia. Crosby was arrested after driving into a fence in a Marin County suburb and officers found a .45-caliber pistol and suspected drug accessories in his car.

On March 7, 2004, he was charged with criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree, illegal possession of a hunting knife, illegal possession of ammunition and illegal possession of about 1 ounce of marijuana.


Two of Crosby's children were placed for adoption, a son James Raymond in 1962 and a daughter Erika Keller in 1966. He has been reunited with both of them as adults. Raymond is a musician, and since 1997 has performed with Crosby on stage and in the studio. In 1997 the two formed the group CPR with Jeff Pevar. The group released two studio albums and two live albums before disbanding in 2004. Meanwhile Raymond continues to perform with Crosby as part of the touring bands for Crosby & Nash and Crosby, Stills & Nash.

Crosby has two other children. He has a daughter, Donovan Crosby, with girlfriend Debbie Donovan. After extensive fertility treatments while Crosby's liver was failing, he and wife Jan Dance conceived son Django Crosby.

He is married to Jan Dance but had a number of long term relationships, including those with Christine Hinton, Debbie Donovan and Joni Mitchell.

In January 2000, Melissa Etheridge, a lesbian musician announced that Crosby was the biological father of the two children she and her partner Julie Cypher had conceived by artificial insemination.[7]

Crosby's brother Ethan, who taught him to play guitar and started his musical career with him, committed suicide in late 1997 or early 1998. The date is unknown because Ethan left a note not to search for his body and let him return to the earth. His body was found months later in May 1998.



  1. ^ a b Zimmer, Dave and Diltz, Henry. (1984). Crosby, Stills & Nash: The Authorized Biography (First edition). St. Martin's Press. pp. 2. ISBN 0-312-17660-0.  
  2. ^ a b Rogan, J. (1998). The Byrds: Timeless Flight Revisited. Rogan House. ISBN 0-95295-401-X.  
  3. ^ Zimmer, Dave and Diltz, Henry. (1984). Crosby, Stills & Nash: The Authorized Biography (First edition). St. Martin's Press. pp. 179. ISBN 0-312-17660-0.  
  4. ^ "David Crosby Biography". Crosby CPR. Retrieved 2009-09-19.  
  5. ^ "Teach Your Pop Stars Well". Retrieved 2009-09-19.  
  6. ^ "David Crosby Liver Transplant Sparks Vigorous Debate on Fairness of Allocation System". HighBeam Research. Retrieved 2009-09-19.  
  7. ^ "David Crosby's A Daddy". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2009-09-19.  


  • Crosby, David (2005). Long Time Gone: The Autobiography of David Crosby. Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-81406-4.  

External links

Simple English

[[File:|thumb|right|David Crosby]] David Van Cortland Crosby (born August 14, 1941) is an American musician. He is most famous as a member of the bands The Byrds and Crosby, Stills, and Nash, as having rather close relations with Neil Young.

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