David Crosby, at 81, Is Now ‘Long Time Gone’

by on January 20, 2023 · 8 comments

in California

By John Dolan and Andy Greene / Rolling StoneReader Supported News / Jan. 20, 2023

David Crosby, the singer, songwriter, and guitarist who helped shape the sound of Sixties rock and beyond, died Wednesday night at the age of 81. A source close to Crosby confirmed the musician’s death to Rolling Stone, but did not disclose a cause.

Crosby was a founding member of the Byrds, playing guitar and contributing harmony vocals to their most enduring songs, including “Eight Miles High,” “So You Want to Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star,” and “Turn! Turn! Turn!” Shortly after being forced out of the group due to personality conflicts with frontman Roger McGuinn, he formed the supergroup Crosby, Stills, and Nash with Buffalo Springfield’s Stephen Stills and Graham Nash of the Hollies.

The trio — which became a quartet in 1969 when Neil Young joined their ranks — played a major role in the development of folk rock, country rock, and the emergent “California sound” that dominated rock radio throughout the mid-Seventies. Croz wrote many of their most beloved tunes, including “Almost Cut My Hair,” “Long Time Gone,” and “Déjà Vu.”

“It is with a deep and profound sadness that I learned that my friend David Crosby has passed,” Crosby’s former bandmate 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.”

“He was without question a giant of a musician, and his harmonic sensibilities were nothing short of genius,” Stills remembered in a message to Rolling Stone. “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.”

“I’m heartbroken to hear about David Crosby,” Brian Wilson wrote. “David was an unbelievable talent — such a great singer and songwriter. And a wonderful person. I just am at a loss for words.”

While Crosby’s success continued in the 1970s and into the Eighties, his personal life was marred by heavy drug use, which wreaked havoc on his career and led to a short jail sentence in 1985. Yet he recovered and continued making music and touring for another three decades. “I have no idea how I’m alive and Jimi [Hendrix] isn’t and Janis [Joplin] isn’t and all my other friends,” he told Rolling Stone in 2014, years after he’d cleaned up. “I have no idea why me, but I got lucky.”

Crosby was born in Los Angeles in 1941. His father, Floyd Crosby, was an Academy Award-winning cinematographer. David briefly attended Santa Barbara City College, but dropped out to pursue music. In 1964, he joined a band called the Jet Set, consisting of McGuinn and Gene Clark. They changed their name to the Beefeaters, and then the Byrds. Crosby’s gorgeous harmonizing, heard on hits like the Bob Dylan cover “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “Turn! Turn! Turn!,” was an essential component in the Byrds’ folk-rock sound.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Frank Gormlie January 20, 2023 at 10:29 am

This is very sad. Crosby, Nash, Stills and Young was the greatest American band out of the 60s and 70s. I’m a little disappointed with this article; it did not mention one of CSN&Y’s greatest all-time hits, “Ohio.”


Chris January 20, 2023 at 4:58 pm

The one and only album I had from them was the live 4 Way Street. Two record set and the 2 vinyl was sooo drastically different then how the sounded in the studio. I think Ohio was the opening track on 2nd record. My liking that song cost me a sprained rib and a black eye from some disgruntled Vietnam vets lol. Us bar in El Cajon 1987.


Tom Bailey January 20, 2023 at 3:00 pm

Right! Frank. Ohio is a very meaningful song and captures what Nixon and his Republican cronies did to young, lawful, protestors.


Frank Gormlie January 20, 2023 at 5:20 pm

Tom, you gotta read my new book, The May 1970 Rebellion, hopefully to be published this year.


Chris January 20, 2023 at 4:52 pm

He had some demons and was a bit of a cock on the block but ultimately this is very sad but not unexpected. I was always a fan of The Byrds but didn’t really appreciate CS@N (and later Young) until a few years after their breakup.


Frank Gormlie January 20, 2023 at 7:54 pm

Chris, yeah, too bad. I saw them (all 4) when they appeared at the Sports Arena around 2001. Inexplicably they didn’t play one sound off their new -then CD. But, being the Bush years, they did play some very political stuff.


Jan Michael Sauer January 21, 2023 at 12:54 pm

In his later years, David was always proud to call himself “An Old Hippie “. He was always one of the Hippies that I had the most admiration for. Love and Peace David.


retired botanist January 25, 2023 at 9:45 am

I’ve read quite a few eulogies for Crosby this past week written by friends and fellow musicians. My heart is still bruised with his departure. And his death has caused me to reflect a lot on my generation. I believe our generation produced more outstanding musicians and song writers than any other, and that fills me with pride! Sure the previous generation had good crooners, and long ago generations produced remarkable composers, but no single generation had as much impact on music and culture- globally- as our’s did. And in their own lifetimes! It is a stellar achievement. Re the lack of mention of the Ohio song, perhaps b/c it was written by Neil Young, tho performed by CSNY? Regardless, Crosby will be forever missed, but never ever forgotten!


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