David Crosby

David+CrosbyFrom: Los Angeles, CA, USA

Born David Van Cortlandt Crosby, on August 14, 1941, in Los Angeles, California. David and his brother Ethan were raised by their parents, Aliph Van Cortlandt and Floyd Crosby (an Academy Award-winning cinematographer), in Santa Barbara. While still in their teens, the two brothers started singing and playing guitar in beatnik coffeehouses and local clubs.

In the early 1960s, David Crosby chose to go out on his own. He spent the next few years drifting from city to city in search of work until he met fellow folk singer Roger McGuinn. The two experimented with different musical styles, developing an exclusive sound that blended folk music with electronic amplification.

In 1964, Crosby and McGuinn (guitar and vocals) started their first band, the Byrds, with fellow musicians Gene Clark (vocals, guitar, and tambourine), Chris Hillman (bass and vocals), and Michael Clarke (drums). In May 1965, the Byrds released their first single, a remake of “Mr. Tambourine Man” (originally released by Bob Dylan earlier that same year), which skyrocketed to the top of the charts and held a place as one of the Top 10 songs for 13 weeks. The band followed their initial success with two more hit singles, “All I Really Want to Do” and a modern version of Pete Seeger’s “Turn! Turn! Turn!” As their popularity grew to a phenomenal level, the unique synthesis developed by the group was coined “folk rock” by those in the music industry.

The Byrds performed together for four years, continuing to reinvent themselves with a succession of widely popular albums, including Fifth Dimension (1966) and Younger than Yesterday (1967). Serving as the band’s singer, rhythm guitar player, and songwriter, the headstrong Crosby often assumed creative control over the group. In 1968, he was ousted from the group. Crosby walked away with a significant cash settlement, and the freedom to pursue other opportunities.

Crosby spent a short time in Florida, where he befriended aspiring musician Joni Mitchell. As Crosby helped Mitchell record her first album, Mitchell returned the favor by introducing him to Neil Young and Stephen Stills of Buffalo Springfield (a band that was on the verge of breaking up). Stills contemplated going out on his own, but instead began a professional partnership with Crosby. The addition of former Hollies member Graham Nash turned the duo into the trio of Crosby, Stills and Nash. The release of their first, self-titled album in 1969 proved to be a success, earning the band a Grammy Award for Best New Artist.

Shortly after their well-received debut, guitarist Neil Young joined the group. In August of 1969, the newly renamed Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young played to half a million people at the landmark Woodstock Festival in Bethel, New York. The following year, the group released their first studio collaboration, Déja Vu, which earned Gold Record status in less than a week. Despite, their overwhelming popularity, the band broke up that same year, citing creative differences.

In 1971 Crosby issued his first solo album “If I Could Only Remember My Name.” A large grouping of prominent musicians from the era appear on the record, including Nash, Young, Joni Mitchell, members of the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and Santana. This ad-hoc ensemble was given the moniker of “The Great Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra” by longtime Crosby associate Paul Kantner; many of the same musicians appeared on the latter’s Blows Against The Empire, recorded concurrently with Crosby’s album. The album also features the only recorded appearance of David Crosby’s reclusive brother, Ethan Crosby.

Throughout the remainder of the 1970s and into the 1980s, Crosby periodically reunited with the band members of his past. The reunions often yielded albums, including 1976’s Whistling Down the Wire (with Graham Nash), 1982’s Daylight Again (with Crosby, Stills and Nash), and 1989’s American Dream (with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young).

Crosby accumulated multiple gold and platinum records during his career, which now spans over six decades. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on two separate occasions: in 1991 with the Byrds, and in 1997 with Crosby, Stills and Nash. However, Crosby’s success was often overshadowed by his personal demons. Plagued by a lifelong battle with drugs, he was arrested for possession of cocaine in 1985. During his 11-month incarceration at Texas State Penitentiary, he underwent an intense detoxification and rehabilitation program.

In 1989, a clean and sober Crosby had a renewed determination to make music again, briefly reuniting with McGuinn and Hillman. The trio performed as the Byrds, and recorded four songs for The Byrds box set, which was released in 1990.

However, in 1995, Crosby’s years of reckless living came back to haunt him. Partly due to his years of substance abuse, Crosby’s liver was severely deteriorated. Shortly after this dim prognosis, he received a desperately needed liver transplant, and has since completely recovered.

In 1987, Crosby married Jane Dance with whom he has one child, Django. He has a daughter Anne from a previous relationship with Debbie Donovan. Crosby recently discovered that he sired another son, James Raymond, from a brief relationship with an unnamed woman. Raymond is an accomplished musician who now plays in his father’s new band, Crosby, Pevar and Raymond (CPR).

In 2000, Crosby made headlines when singer Melissa Etheridge revealed that he fathered (through artificial insemination) the two children she is raising with her partner, Julie Cypher.

~ A&E Networks

David Crosby’s debut solo album, If I Could Only Remember My Name is a one-shot wonder of dreamy but ominous California ambience. The songs range from brief snapshots of inspiration the angelic chorale-vocal showcase on “Orleans” and the a cappella closer, “I’d Swear There Was Somebody Here” to the full-blown, rambling western epic “Cowboy Movie,” and there are absolutely no false notes struck or missteps taken. No one before or since has gotten as much mileage out of a wordless vocal as Crosby does on “Tamalpais High At About 3” and “Song with No Words Tree with No Leaves,” and because the music is so relaxed, each song turns into its own panoramic vista. Those who don’t go for trippy Aquarian sentiment, however, may be slightly put off by the obscure, cosmic storytelling of the gorgeous “Laughing,” or the ambiguous but pointed social questioning of “What Are Their Names,” but in actuality it is an incredibly focused album. Even when a song as pretty as “Traction in the Rain” shimmers with its picked guitars and autoharp, the album is coated in a distinct, persistent menace that is impossible to shake. It is a shame that Crosby would continue to descend throughout the remainder of the decade and the beginning of the next into aimless drug addiction, and that he would not issue another solo album until 18 years later. As it is, If I Could Only Remember My Name is a shambolic masterpiece, meandering but transcendentally so, full of frayed threads. Not only is it among the finest splinter albums out of the CSN&Y diaspora, it is one of the defining moments of hungover spirituality from the era.

~ Stanton Swihart

Tracks played on Psychedelicized…

From the 1971 album If I Could Only Remember My Name

  • Cowboy Movie
  • I’d Swear There Was Somebody Here
  • Laughing
  • Music Is Love
  • Orleans
  • Song With No Words (Tree With No Leaves)
  • Tamalpais High (At About 3)
  • Traction In The Rain
  • What Are Their Names?