David Crosby, Legendary Musician, Dies at 81

The singer-songwriter was a founding member of The Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash

david crosby
David Crosby (Getty Images)

David Crosby, a founding member of The Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash, died Jan. 18 at the age of 81.

“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,” his wife Jan Dance said in a statement shared with Variety.

“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. 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,” she wrote.

Crosby was born on Aug. 14, 1941, in Los Angeles. His father was Oscar-winning cinematographer Floyd Crosby. After dropping out of Santa Barbara City College to pursue a career in music, Crosby went on to become one of the most prolific and influential folk rock singers and songwriters of the ’60s and ’70s.

He joined The Byrds in 1964 and played on their first five albums, including their 1965 cover of Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man.”

After leaving the band, he formed Crosby, Stills & Nash in 1968 with Stephen Stills of Buffalo Springfield and Graham Nash of the Hollies. The trio went on to win a Grammy for Best New Artist of 1969 for their debut album CSN. Their hits included 1969’s “Teach Your Children” and 1970’s “Love the One You’re With.”

They later added Neil Young, who performed with them at Woodstock. In 1982, CSNY’s song “Southern Cross” reached No. 18 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was the group’s last chart hit.

In 1971, Crosby released his solo debut, “If I Could Only Remember My Name,” which featured Nash and Young, as well as Joni Mitchell and members of Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead and Santana.

Crosby was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice — in 1991 as a member of The Byrds and in 1997 as a member of Crosby, Stills & Nash.

His well-publicized drug and alcohol issues included serving five months of a five-year prison sentence in 1986 stemming from a 1982 arrest for possession of a handgun and cocaine at a Dallas nightclub.

Crosby’s occasional acting included roles in the films “Hook,” “Thunderheart” and “Backdraft,” and cameos as an Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor on both “The John Larroquette Show” and “The Simpsons.”

He wrote two memoirs with author Carl Gottlieb, 1988’s “Long Time Gone” and “Since Then: How I Survived Everything and Lived to Tell About It” in 2007.

In 2000, singer Melissa Etheridge revealed that Crosby was the biological father of her two children with then-partner Julie Cypher.

Crosby is survived by his wife Jan Dance, their sons Django and James Raymond, and two daughters, Erika and Donovan, from previous relationships.