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David Crosby, The Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash Founder, Dies at 81

todayJanuary 19, 2023 18

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Two-time Rock & Roll Hall of Famer David Crosby, has died, sources confirm to Billboard. He was 81. Cause of death is unknown.

Crosby was a seminal figure in the folk-rock scene for more than six decades as a member of The Byrds,  Crosby, Stills & Nash and then Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. He also had a prolific solo career, especially in recent years, releasing new music at an almost frenetic pace. 

Crosby, a Los Angeles native and son of Academy Award-winning cinematographer Floyd Crosby, joined the Byrds in 1964 and in 1965, the band, known for its jangling guitars and layered harmonies, took two songs to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100: the Bob Dylan-penned “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “Turn!Turn!Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season).”

Due to infighting with his bandmates Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman,” Crosby left the Byrds in 1967. In 1968, after meeting Stephen Stills and Graham Nash, the trio formed Crosby, Stills & Nash, appearing at Woodstock in August, 1969, for only their second gig. 

Their self-titled debut album spawned two top 40 Hot 100 hits — “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” (No. 21) and “Marrakesh Express” (No. 28) — and the trio won the Grammy for best new artist in 1969. (He is one of only two individuals in Grammy history to have received two Grammy nominations for best new artist. He was nominated for that award as part of The Byrds (1965) before his CSN win.)

In 2019, Cameron Crowe produced a documentary about the cantankerous rock icon called Remember My Name. In an interview about the warts-and-all doc, Crosby explained to Billboard why it made sense that his Byrds bandmate Roger McGuinn called him “insufferable.”

“I can be contentious. Opinionated. I’m comfortable with that,” Crosby conceded. “When you’re in a relationship like that in a band, it’s like a marriage… you start out, you love each other, you love each other’s music. You’re thrilled that you’re doing this, and every time you play music, you feel brotherhood with the other guys. In CSNY with Neil [Young] and Graham [Nash] and Stephen [Stills], we were a competitive band. Not cooperative/competitive. We were also very shitty to each other over and over and over again, unkind and disloyal.”

Crosby earned 10 Grammy nominations in his lifetime — including a best music film nod for Remember My Name — but the CSN best new artist prize was his lone win.

David Crosby was MusiCares’ inaugural person of the year recipient in 1991. He is one of only two individuals in Grammy history to have received two Grammy nominations for best new artist. He was nominated for that award as part of The Byrds (1965) and won as part of Crosby, Stills & Nash (1969). The only other individual to be twice-nominated in that category is Carl Palmer, who was nominated as part of Emerson, Lake & Palmer (1971) and again as part of Asia (1982).

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