David Crosby, one of the most influential rock singers of the 1960s and ’70s with the Byrds and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (CSNY) has died at the age of 81, Variety reported on Thursday, citing a statement from Crosby’s wife.
“It is with great sadness after a long illness, that our beloved David (Croz) Crosby has passed away” Variety quoted his wife, Jan Dance, as saying in the statement.
Crosby’s UK-based representatives could not immediately be reached for comment by Reuters.
Crosby was a founding member of two revered rock bands: the country and folk influenced Byrds, for whom he cowrote the hit “Eight Miles High,” and CSNY, who defined the smooth side of the Woodstock generation’s music. He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a member of both groups.
Musically, Crosby stood out for his intricate vocal harmonies, unorthodox open tunings on guitar and incisive songwriting. His work with both the Byrds and CSN/CSNY blended rock and folk in new ways and their music became a part of the soundtrack for the hippie era.
Personally, Crosby was the embodiment of the credo “sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll,” and a 2014 Rolling Stone magazine article tagged him “rock’s unlikeliest survivor.”
In addition to drug addictions that ultimately led to a transplant to replace a liver worn out by decades of excess, his tumultuous life included a serious motorcycle accident, the death of a girlfriend, and battles against hepatitis C and diabetes.
“I’m concerned that the time I’ve got here is so short, and I’m pissed at myself, deeply, for the 10 years — at least — of time that I wasted just getting smashed,” Crosby told the Los Angeles Times in July 2019. “I’m ashamed of that.”
He fell “as low as a human being can go,” Crosby told the Times.
He also managed to alienate many of his famous former bandmates for which he often expressed remorse in recent years.
His drug habits and often abrasive personality contributed to the demise of CSNY and the members eventually quit speaking to each other. In the 2019 documentary “David Crosby: Remember My Name,” he made clear he hoped they could work together again but conceded the others “really dislike me, strongly.”
Crosby fathered six children – two as a sperm donor to rocker Melissa Etheridge’s partner and another who was placed for adoption at birth and did not meet Crosby until he was in his 30s. That son, James Raymond, would eventually become his musical collaborator.
Looking back at the turbulent 1960s and his life, Crosby told Time magazine in 2006: “We were right about civil rights; we were right about human rights; we were right about peace being better than war … But I think we didn’t know our butt from a hole in the ground about drugs and that bit us pretty hard.”
Crosby was born on Aug. 14, 1941, in Los Angeles. His father was a cinematographer who won a Golden Globe for “High Noon” in 1952 and his mother exposed him to the folk group the Weavers and to classical music.