David Crosby Dead: Crosby, Stills & Nash Legend Was 81

David Crosby, one of the legendary singer-songwriters of the 1960s and 1970s, has died, his wife told Variety Thursday. He was 81. Crosby, affectionately nicknamed "Croz," was a member of The Byrds and later Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. The guitarist was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his work with both bands.

Crosby's death was announced in a statement from his wife, Jan Dance, whom he married in 1987. "It is with great sadness after a long illness, that our beloved David (Croz) Crosby has passed away. He was lovingly surrounded by his wife and soulmate Jan and son Django," the Crosby family's statement to Variety reads. "Although he is no longer here with us, his humanity and kind soul will continue to guide and inspire us. His legacy will continue to live on through his legendary music. Peace, love, and harmony to all who knew David and those he touched. We will miss him dearly. At this time, we respectfully and kindly ask for privacy as we grieve and try to deal with our profound loss. Thank you for the love and prayers."

Crosby's death came almost a year after he announced plans to retire from touring, although he later changed his mind because nothing could stop David Crosby. "So I played with some friends the day before yesterday and spent today [singing] with two really good friends and ……hmmmmmm….dare I say it? …I think I'm starting yet another band and going back out to play live,": he tweeted on Dec. 15.

Crosby was born in Los Angeles on Aug. 14, 1941, and was the son of Oscar-winning cinematographer Floyd Crosby. After dropping out of college to pursue music, Crosby met Jim McGuinn during a trip to Chicago. McGuinn, who would later change his name to Rodger McGuinn, Crosby, and Gene Clark established their first band, the Jet Set. After bassist Chris Hillman joined, the group became The Byrds. The group's first successes were new takes on Bob Dylan songs, including "Mr. Tambourine Man."

After Clark left the group in 1966, Crosby and McGuinn took on more songwriting duties. Crosby's experimental songwriting style began to stand out among the rest of the material, and he was pushed out of the band by 1968. After meeting Stephen Stills, formerly of Buffalo Springfield, and The Hollies' Graham Nash, the trio established one of the first rock supergroups. Their 1969 album, Crosby, Stills, & Nash, was a massive success and included Crosby's "Guinnevere" and "Long Time Gone."

After Neil Young joined the band, the now-quartet released Deja vu, which was even more successful. Crosby contributed the title track and "Almost Cut My Hair." While recording the album, Crosby's longtime girlfriend Christine Hinton was killed and he began abusing drugs more than before. in the wake of Deja vu and their tours, they focused on their solo careers. 

"My experience was wide and varied," Crosby said of the 1960s and 1970s in a May 2022 interview with the Golden High School Journalism class, which Best Classic Bands published. "Some of it was awful and some of it was absolutely joyously wonderful. I wish I had never encountered hard drugs, that was a big mistake. Big mistake. But I don't regret my life because it let me get out there and make music. And making music is an absolute joy…what happened was a blossoming…an opening of ideas, of compassion, of trying to be decent human beings. How I judge people is whether or not they're trying…We are trying to be decent human beings."

The musician ran into legal issues throughout his life. In 1982, he was arrested in Dallas and charged with possessing a handgun and pipe used for cocaine. He served five months of a five-year prison sentence in 1986. He was also arrested for alleged drunk driving in California in 1985. In 2004, he was fined for marijuana and firearms possession. He also hit a jogger in 2015 with his car, but was not charged in the incident.

Crosby released eight solo albums during his life, with the final being For Free in 2021. Between his solo recordings, he often worked with the other members of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. In the 1990s, he formed the trio CPR, with guitarist Jeff Pevar and his son James Raymond. His life was the subject of Cameron Crowe's 2019 documentary David Crosby: Remember My Name. Crosby also wrote two memoirs.

Crosby never retired from performing music. He recently formed The Lighthouse Band, with Becca Stevens, Michelle Willis, and Michael League. They just released Live at the Capitol Theatre, a CD/DVD set recorded in 2018. "It just so happens that I have an entire studio album that I just finished with The Lighthouse Band—mixed, mastered, ready to release—and it's better than anything else we've done," Crosby told Paste Magazine in an interview published on Jan. 16. "And I'm waiting to put it out until this live record gets out. It's tough getting the record company to do what I want."

In recent years, Crosby let his music opinions be known on Twitter. He was always politically active, but the platform gave him the opportunity to directly interact with fans. On the day before he died, he told fans that his favorite Beatles song was "Eleanor Rigby." "I have fun there, man," Crosby told Paste of his Twitter use. "It's fun! I think Twitter's okay if you don't take it too seriously."