Friday, January 3, 2014

January 3: Stephen Stills,with Buffalo Springfield, Crosby, Stills & Nash (and Young) is 69-years-old today.

Stills was ranked #28 in Rolling Stone Magazine's 2003 list of "The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time."


Stephen Stills was raised in a military family, and lived in many places as a child; Gainesville and Tampa, Florida, Louisiana, Costa Rica and the Panama Canal Zone. Along the way, he developed a love for the blues, folk and Latin music.

Stills dropped out of the University of Florida to pursue a music career in the early 1960s. He played in a series of unsuccessful bands including The Continentals, which featured future Eagles guitarist Don Felder.

He eventually ended up in a nine-member vocal harmony group, the house act at the famous Cafe Au Go Go in NYC, called the Au Go Go Singers which also included future bandmate in Buffalo Springfield Richie Furay. The group released one album in 1964, shortly before parting ways.

Afterwards, Stills, along with four other former members of the Au Go Go Singers formed The Company, a folk/rock group. The Company broke up in New York within four months. Stills did session work and went to various auditions (including an unsuccessful attempt to become one of The Monkees). In 1966 he convinced a reluctant former Au Go Go Singer, Richie Furay, then living in Massachusetts, to move with him to California.

Stills, Furay, and Neil Young - who Stills met when The Company toured Canada - formed the core of Buffalo Springfield. The band would release three albums (Buffalo Springfield, Buffalo Springfield Again, and Last Time Around) and one hit single (Stills' "For What It's Worth") before disbanding.

Stills' guitar playing continually evolved. Early on, he played recognizable rock and roll, blues, Latin, and country music. He then added mimicked some of the sounds he learned from his friend Jimi Hendrix. He has also been known to experiment; including soaking strings in barbecue sauce or flipping pickups to mimic Hendrix playing a right-handed guitar left-handed. He is also known for using unconventional tunings, particularly when performing acoustically.

Stills also plays piano, organ and bass and plays some drums. He played nearly every instrument on Crosby, Stills and Nash, earning the nickname Captain Manyhands from Rolling Stone.

After Buffalo Springfield split up, Stills joined up with ex-Byrd David Crosby and ex-Hollie Graham Nash to form the super-group Crosby, Stills & Nash. They teamed up after Cass Elliot invited Graham Nash over to meet Stills and David Crosby at the home of well known folk musician and painter Joni Mitchell. (Mitchell painted several artworks of the three. She also contributed the artwork seen on the cover of the 1974 CSNY collection album So Far.)

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Stills Alone

Stills overdubbed much of the musical backing himself for the first Crosby, Stills, and Nash album with only Dallas Taylor's drums and some rhythm guitar from Crosby and Nash. Neil Young was added for their second album, and the group became Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. Despite several breakups and reformations, CSN (and sometimes CSNY) still record and tour to this day.

Having played at the Monterey Pop Festival with Buffalo Springfield, and both Woodstock and Altamont with CSNY, Stills performed at all three of the iconic U.S. rock festivals of the 1960s.

In the wake of CSNY's success, all four members recorded solo albums. In 1970, Stills released his self-titled album, which also featured Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Cass Elliot, Booker T Jones and Ringo Starr (credited only as "Richie") as well as contributions from various members of the CSNY band. It provided Stills with the hit single "Love The One You're With."


Stills followed this with Stephen Stills 2, which featured "Change Partners." The next year, Stills teamed up with ex-Byrd Chris Hillman and several CSNY sidemen to form the band Manassas. With Manassas Stills recorded the self-titled double album. The album was a mixture of blues, folk and Latin music divided into different sections.

After a tour in France, he switched to Columbia Records, where he recorded two albums: Stills in 1975 and Illegal Stills.

In 1976, Stills attempted a reunion with Neil Young. At one point, Long May You Run was slated to be a CSNY record, but when Crosby and Nash left to fulfill recording and touring obligations, according to both David and Graham they deleted their vocals, and Stills and Young decided to go on as The Stills-Young Band. However, Young would leave midway through the resulting tour due to an apparent throat infection.

Stills reunited with Crosby and Nash shortly afterwards, thanks to the efforts of Nash's future wife Susan, who got Nash to forgive Stills for wiping the Crosby and Nash vocals from Long May You Run. This led to the semi-permanent CSN reunion of 1977, which has persisted even though all three have released solo records since then.

Although Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young had difficulties with their differing individual goals, egos, and musical styles, in the early 1983 Daylight Again DVD from the 1982 CSN tour, Stills introduced the song, "Wasted on the Way", commenting that there were "three buddies who didn't know how to talk to one another for years"... finally 'making friends' getting rich, and it being good."

In 1997, Stills became the first person to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice in the same night for his work with CSN and the Buffalo Springfield. Fender guitars crafted a custom guitar and presented it to Stills to commemorate the occasion, this Fender Telecaster style guitar bears an inscription on the neck plate.

In 2005, Stills release Man Alive!, his first solo offering in 14 years. Throughout 2006 and 2007, Stills toured regularly as a solo artist with "The Quartet", which consisted of drummer Joe Vitale, Mike Finnegan or Todd Caldwell on keyboards, and Kevin McCormick or Kenny Pasarelli on bass. Stills toured Europe as a solo artist for the first time during October 2008.


For more about Stephen, visit his Website at -


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