Wednesday, August 14, 2013

August 14: Rock and Roll Hall of Famer David Crosby of The Byrds and Crosby, Stills , Nash & Young, is 72-years-old today.

David Van Cortlandt Crosby was born in Los Angeles, California, the son of an Academy Award winning cinematographer.

At Crane Country Day School in Montecito, he starred in HMS Pinafore and other musicals but was asked not to return due to poor grades. Crosby attended Santa Barbara City College as a drama student, but dropped out to pursue a career in music. He participated in the same Greenwich Village scene at the same time as Bob Dylan as a member of the Les Baxter's Balladeers. He cut his first solo session in 1963.

Crosby joined Jim (Roger) McGuinn  and Gene Clark, who were then named the Jet Set; then drummer Michael Clarke joined, followed in 1964 by Chris Hillman on bass. The band recorded a cover version of Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man” featuring McGuinn's 12 string guitar as well as McGuinn, Crosby and Clark's vocal harmonizing. The song soared to #1 in the charts in the U.S. and the U.K. during 1965. 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 McGuinn, Crosby, and Hillman. Crosby took the opportunity to hone his craft, and soon blossomed into a talented songwriter.

Friction between Crosby and the other Byrds came to a head in mid-1967. 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." (In 1973 Crosby reunited with the original Byrds for the album Byrds, with Crosby acting as the record's producer.)

Around the time of Crosby's firing, he met Stephen Stills, formerly with Buffalo Springfield at a party at the home of (Mama) Cass Elliot. They started meeting and jamming. They were soon joined by Graham Nash, who left his successful group The Hollies to play with Crosby and Stills. 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. 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. It reached 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 January 2000, Melissa Etheridge announced that Crosby was the biological father of two children Julie Cypher gave birth to by means of artificial insemination. At the time, Etheridge and Cypher were in a relationship.

Crosby's most recent release is 2004's Crosby-Nash, a 2-CD set with Graham Nash, their first as a duo since 1976's Whistling Down The Wire. Their debut LP together, '72's Crosby & Nash-featuring "Southbound Train" and "Immigration Man."

Crosby is also the author of three books including Stand and Be Counted: Making Music, Making History/The Dramatic Story of the Artists and Causes That Changed America. Crosby's two autobiographical volumes are Long Time Gone and Since Then: How I Survived Everything And Lived To Tell About It.

Crosby has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice: once for his work in The Byrds and once for his work with CSN.

For more about David Crosby, The Byrds, CSN, and CSN&Y, visit his Website at -


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