David Crosby, the two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Famer who sang for The Byrds before co-founding a supergroup with Stephen Stills and Graham Nash — later adding Neil Young — has died. He was 81. His wife Jan announced the news today.
“It is with great sadness after a long illness, that our beloved David (Croz) Crosby has passed away,” she said in a statement. “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. 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.”
The famously cantankerous Crosby rose to fame as a singer and guitarist for The Byrds, the influential Los Angeles-based folk-rock band that melded a groundbreaking guitar sound with eloquent melodies. He spent three years with the group from 1964-67, singing on its many hits including the chart-topping covers “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “Turn! Turn! Turn!” Those also were the titles of The Byrds’ first two LPs, with Mr. Tambourine Man reaching the U.S. Top 10.
Also featuring Gene Clark, Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman, The Byrds were a major influence on the burgeoning L.A. folk-rock scene that would help feed the country-rock genre epitomized by the Laurel Canyon acts of the late ’60s and early 1970s and such groups as Eagles and The Flying Burrito Brothers, the latter also featuring Hillman.
But Crosby’s admittedly grating personality led to his dismissal from the band. Tensions had boiled over at the legendary Monterey Pop Festival, when he offered long between-song monologues during The Byrds’ set and later filled in for Young during rival L.A. band Buffalo Springfield’s set.
But Crosby, with his signature long hair, bushy moustache and iconoclastic views, would find far greater commercial success with his next group.