David Crosby, one of the most influential singers and songwriters of the 1960s and beyond, has died at the age of 81, friends and former bandmates confirmed Thursday.
“It is with a deep and profound sadness that I learned that my friend David Crosby has passed,” Graham Nash, co-founding member of Crosby, Still & Nash, posted on Facebook. “David was fearless in life and in music. He leaves behind a tremendous void as far as sheer personality and talent in this world. He spoke his mind, his heart, and his passion through his beautiful music and leaves an incredible legacy.”
The cause of death was not released.
Crosby underwent a liver transplant in 1994 after decades of drug use and survived diabetes, hepatitis C and heart surgery in his 70s.
“I am grieving the loss of my friend and Bailey’s biological father, David,” tweeted musician Melissa Ethridge, who had a son with David Crosby via sperm donation. “He gave me the gift of family…His music and legacy will inspire many generations to come. A true treasure.”
Crosby was a founding member of two immensely popular rock bands, The Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash, which later became Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. He also had a prolific solo career. His last studio album, For Free, was released in 2021.
He entertained tens of millions of fans with live performances spanning seven decades.
Crosby was born in Los Angeles in 1941 as the second son of Oscar-winning cinematographer Floyd Crosby and Aliph Van Cortlandt Whitehead, a salesperson at a Macy’s department store, according to his Wikipedia entry.
His central role in L.A.’s hard-partying, historic Laurel Canyon scene of the late 1960s and early 1970s was documented In Jakob Dylan’s 2018 film, Echo in the Canyon, which featured interviews with Crosby, bandmates Graham Nash and Stephen Stills, and many other legends from that era, including Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys, Eric Clapton and Michelle Phillips.
Crosby’s drug use left him bloated, broke and alienated. He kicked the addiction in 1985 and 1986 during a year’s prison stretch in Texas on drug and weapons charges. The conviction eventually was overturned.
“I’ve always said that I picked up the guitar as a shortcut to sex and after my first joint I was sure that if everyone smoked dope there’d be an end to war,” Crosby said in his 1988 autobiography, “Long Time Gone,” co-written with Carl Gottlieb. “I was right about the sex. I was wrong when it came to drugs.”
He lived years longer than even he expected and in his 70s enjoyed a creative renaissance, issuing several solo albums while collaborating with others including his son James Raymond, who became a favorite songwriting partner.
Crosby is survived by his wife, Jan, and son, Django.
Editor’s note: A quote originally attributed to Crosby’s widow has been removed from this story, subsequent to the original source – Variety -removing it from their article.