Graham Nash pays tribute to David Crosby, dead at 81

The musician was a co-founding member of both The Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash

Graham Nash has paid tribute to his former bandmate David Crosby after the singer-songwriter, a co-founding member of The Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash, died at the age of 81.

Crosby’s wife confirmed the news in a statement given to Variety, writing: “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. 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.”

She continued: “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.”

David Crosby
David Crosby in 2011 CREDIT: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Sharing a black and white photo on Instagram of he and Crosby’s guitar cases next to one another, Nash wrote that it was with “a deep and profound sadness” that he learned about Crosby’s death.

“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, the sound we discovered with one another, and the deep friendship we shared over all these many long years,” he continued.

“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. These are the things that matter most. My heart is truly with his wife, Jan, his son, Django, and all of the people he has touched in this world.”

Graham Nash and David Crosby performing together in 2000
Graham Nash and David Crosby performing together in 2000. Credit: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

Crosby co-founded the folk-rock band The Byrds alongside his bandmates Roger McGuinn, Gene Clark, Chris Hillman and Michael Clarke in 1964, after performing on the acoustic coffeehouse circuit and in other bands, including Les Baxter’s Balladeers. He remained in the line-up only briefly, being dismissed from the band in 1967.

However, he stayed with them long enough to be involved from their evolution of Beatles-inspired early days to psychedelia-indebted tunes, and released four albums with the band, culminating in 1967’s ‘Younger Than Yesterday’. He also appeared on their fifth record, ‘The Notorious Byrd Brothers’, due to recording being midway through when he was fired from the band.

He would later go on to produce The Byrds’ 1973 reunion album, ‘Byrds’, which also marked the band’s final ever record.

A year after leaving The Byrds, Crosby formed Crosby, Stills & Nash with Nash and Buffalo Springfield’s Stephen Stills. The trio won Best New Artist at the 1969 Grammys following the release of their self-titled debut album. They performed their second-ever show at the legendary Woodstock festival in 1969 and were often joined onstage by Neil Young, who would later have his surname suffixed onto the band name.

Together, Crosby, Stills & Nash (and Young) released eight studio albums, including 1970’s ‘Déjà Vu’ and their last – 1999’s ‘Looking Forward’.

When the full band wasn’t working together, Crosby would often still collaborate with Nash. The pair released ‘Graham Nash David Crosby’, their debut album together, in 1972, followed by three more over the intervening years.

Aside from their own records, Crosby and Nash quickly became the go-to harmony vocalists for other acts of the ‘70s, including their bandmates Stills and Young. Elsewhere, they appeared on Joni Mitchell’s ‘Free Man In Paris’, James Taylor’s ‘Mexico’ and Jackson Browne’s ‘The Pretender’.

Crosby also had an illustrious solo career, kickstarted by his Top 20 debut solo album ‘If I Could Only Remember My Name’ in 1971. In 2014, he returned to the upper echelons of the charts with a Top 40 hit in ‘Croz’, while his latest solo release came in 2021 with ‘For Free, which featured cover art by Joan Baez.

In 2019, the musician became the focus of his own documentary, David Crosby: Remember My Name. The film was produced by former Rolling Stone journalist and Almost Famous director Cameron Crowe, and was nominated for Best Music Film at the 2020 Grammys.

The star was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame twice – first, with The Byrds in 1991 and again with Crosby, Stills & Nash in 1997.

Outside of music, Crosby also dabbled in acting, appearing as a guest star on The John Larroquette Show and episodes of Roseanne and Ellen. In 1991, he made the leap to the big screen, appearing as a pirate in Hook and as a hippie in Backdraft. A year later, he played a bartender in the Neo-western movie Thunderheart. Crosby also made two appearances in The Simpsons over the years, voicing the animated version of himself.

Crosby was also known for his political beliefs, opposing the US’ involvement in the Vietnam War and speaking out against Donald Trump during the latter’s presidency. “He feels to me like an 8-year-old kid that has never been allowed in his dad’s office and he’s broken and he’s peeing on the papers, running around madly with his dick flopping out, peeing on the papers saying, ‘I’ll show you!’” he told Rolling Stone of Trump in 2020.

David Crosby
David Crosby CREDIT: Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns

“He’s not even really sane,” he continued. “And he is far more dangerous than Nixon because he’s got a gigantic ego and he was raised by monsters. His dad must have been one of the most horrifying people you ever could have encountered. The signs are all over him.”

Speaking to NME around the release of ‘For Free’ in 2021, Crosby said that making music in his eighties was “keeping me alive”. “There are two centres to my life; my family and the music,” he explained. “That I can still at this advanced age get a chance to make more music is just a freaking miracle; it’s fucking wonderful. I didn’t think I was going to live past 30.

“The fact that I’ve made it this far… All the things that I’ve been through, man – all the mistakes that I’ve made; the time that I’ve wasted; the problems that I’ve had… I’m astounded that I’m here, I’m clear-headed, I’m happy and I’m working and my family is working. I’m making good records. I’m surprised and extremely pleased.”

Looking to his future, Crosby said he was “done” playing live, but had designs to make “at least two more records”. “It’s very important to me,” he said. “I love making music, man. It’s my favourite thing to do. I’m going to do another one with James. We’re already writing it and I’m going to do another one with The Lighthouse band – we’re already writing that, too.”

Tributes have begun to be paid to the legendary musician online. The Beach BoysBrian Wilson wrote on Twitter: “I don’t know what to say other than I’m heartbroken to hear about David Crosby. David was an unbelievable talent – such a great singer and songwriter.

“And a wonderful person. I just am at a loss for words. Love & Mercy to David’s family and friends.”

Pink Floyd‘s David Gilmour also paid tribute to Crosby, sharing a photo of the pair together. “We sang together, we played together and had great times together,” he wrote. “I’ll miss The Croz more than words can say. Sail on.”

“Grateful for the time we had with David Crosby. We’ll miss him a lot,” Jason Isbell tweeted.

Publicist Danny Deraney added: “I repped David Crosby on different occasions. He was his own man. He could be cantankerous, he could be a pussycat. That was Cros. About as real as you could get.”

See more tributes below.

This is a developing story and will be updated

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