Updated [January 19, 2023, 8:26 p.m. EST]: The New York Post reports that Crosby’s wife,
Jan Dance, broke the news with “great sadness,” saying the acclaimed musician passed after suffering from an illness for a “long” time, according to Variety.
“It is with great sadness after a long illness, that our beloved David (Croz) Crosby has passed away,” she said in the statement. “He was lovingly surrounded by his wife and soulmate Jan and son Django.”
“Although he is no longer here with us, his humanity and kind soul will continue to guide and inspire us,” she added, reflecting on her husband of 36 years. “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.”
David Crosby, founding member of 1960s bands The Byrds and later, Crosby Stills & Nash, died on January 19th, 2023, after a lengthy illness. Crosby was 81.
Crosby cut his musical teeth in the Greenwich Village folk scene of the early 1960s. He first rose to stardom when he went to Los Angeles and joined forces with Jim (later Roger) McGuinn, Chris Hillman, and others to form The Byrds. Billed as America’s “answer” to the “British Invasion” in general and The Beatles in particular, The Byrds’ folk/rock sound found favor with fans of each style, scoring hit after hit, with songs such as Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man,” Pete Seeger’s “Turn! Turn! Turn!,” and later on, the psychedelic “Eight Miles High,” written by Crosby along with McGuinn and fellow band member Gene Clark.
Crosby’s penchant for being his own worst enemy, assorted chemicals greatly assisting with same, led to his dismissal from The Byrds in 1967. He landed on his feet by joining forces with Stephen Stills (Buffalo Springfield) and Graham Nash (The Hollies). Crosby Stills & Nash took the world by storm with their 1969 debut album and its 1970 successor, “Deja Vu,” the latter bringing Stills’ former Buffalo Springfield bandmate Neil Young into the mix. Crosby Stills Nash and (occasionally) Young fragmented, regrouped, and repeatedly fragmented over the years, but their first two albums forever cemented their place in rock & roll history.
Crosby was better known for his extracurricular activities than his music from the mid-70s going forward. He spent time in jail on a drug charge, coming out apparently clean but still irascible. Later, he was the sperm donor for lesbian rocker Melissa Etheridge‘s two children; in the bitterest of ironies, the son, thus created, died in 2020 at age 21 from a drug overdose.
His many stumbles as a human being aside, Crosby‘s heritage in rock history is unquestionable. Wherever there are the jangly guitars of Americana, embodied by the late, Tom Petty, or exquisite vocal harmonies, Crosby‘s influence carries through to this day. Like Jeff Beck, who died on January 10th, 2023, Crosby’s death is a sobering reminder not only to boomers but all popular music fans that the generation who transformed rock ‘n’ roll from teen beat to a societal voice is rapidly fading away.
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