The musician died yesterday at the age of 81. He was a member of the hit group The Byrds and later formed the foursome Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young with Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, and Neil Young, that produced good music despite being highly dysfunctional, to put it mildly. The smoothness of their harmonies in music stood in stark contrast to the the disharmonies in their personal relationships, with the group forming and breaking up, over and over again.
Crosby joined the Byrds in 1964, but was dismissed from the band three years later. In 2019 documentary Remember My Name, Byrds member Roger McGuinn described Crosby and his on-stage political rants as “insufferable”, with fellow band member Chris Hillman saying he had a superiority complex.
In 1968, Crosby met Stephen Stills and the pair started jamming together. They were soon joined by Graham Nash to form Crosby, Stills & Nash, selling millions of copies of their first two albums: their self-titled debut in 1969, and – joined by Neil Young – Déjà Vu the following year.
Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young disbanded in 2016 after years of rivalry and tension. In a 2021 interview with the Guardian, Crosby described Graham Nash as “definitely my enemy” and Neil Young as “the most self-centred, self-obsessed, selfish person I know”.
In a tribute shared on Twitter by music journalist Rob Tannenbaum, Crosby’s former bandmate Graham Nash wrote of his “profound sadness” to hear the news.
“I know people tend to focus on how volatile our relationship has been at times, but what has always mattered to David and me more than anything was the pure joy of the music we created together,” Nash wrote. “He leaves behind a tremendous void.”
You can read about all the vicious infighting that went on in gruesome detail. It is amazing that they were able to produce any music at all.
Here is my favorite song Teach Your Children of the CSNY group, though minus Young in this live performance in 2000 on Dave Letterman’s show.