Crosby, Stills, Nash (and Young)

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Crosby, Stills, Nash (and Young)

Crosby, Stills, Nash (and Young) , the quintessential close harmony, acoustic-guitar, songwriting trio of the late 1960s and early 1970s. MEMBERSHIP: David Crosby (real name, David Van Cortland), gtr., tenor voc. (b. Los Angeles, Aug. 14, 1941); Stephen Stills, gtr., kybd., voc. (b. Dallas, Jan. 3, 1945); Graham Nash, gtr., high tenor voc. (b. Blackpool, Lancashire, England, Feb. 2, 1942); Neil Young, gtr., voc. (b. Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Nov. 12, 1945).

Ex-Byrd David Crosby and former member of Buffalo Springfield, Stephen Stills, met Graham Nash of the Hollies in 1968. An informal jam session in Los Angeles that July so impressed the three that they decided to form a group as soon as Nash could sever relations with the English group. Nash performed his last engagement with the Hollies on Dec. 8, 1968. Signing with Atlantic Records in January 1969, their debut album Crosby, Stills and Nash yielded two moderate hits with Nash’s “Marrakesh Express” and Stills’s “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,” written about Judy Collins. With Crosby on rhythm guitar and Stills overdubbing lead guitar, organ, and bass, the album featured precise three-part harmonies. Included were two Crosby songs, “Long Time Gone” and “Guinnevere,” Nash’s “Lady of the Island,” Stills’s “Helplessly Hoping,” and the mystical “Wooden Ships,” composed by Crosby, Stills, and (uncredited) Paul Kantner.

In an effort to fill out their acoustic sound, Crosby, Stills and Nash recruited Neil Young, another former member of Buffalo Springfield who was pursuing a successful solo career. They debuted at N.Y/s Fillmore East less than a month before the quartet’s celebrated appearance at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair in August 1969. By the end of the year, however, the “good vibes” that had produced the magnificent results on the first album were dashed, as Stills broke up with Judy Collins, Nash broke up with Joni Mitchell, and Crosby’s girlfriend Christine Hinton was killed in an auto crash. Young admirably took up the slack for Deja Vu, the group’s most successful album. It featured three hits, an electric version of Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock” and two Nash songs, “Teach Your Children” and “Our House.” The album also included Crosby’s title song and “Almost Cut My Hair,” Stills’s “Carry On” and “4 and 20,” and Young’s three-part production effort “Country Girl.” By fall 1970, the group had split, but not before issuing Young’s brilliant “Ohio,” an outraged response to the Kent State student murders of May 1970. Nash subsequently compiled the double-record live set Four Way Street, which included Young classics such as “On the Way Home,” “Cowgirl in the Sand,” and “Southern Man,” and two beautiful Crosby songs, “Triad” and “The Lee Shore.”

Stephen Stills had already recorded one side of the Super Session album with Al Kooper. Stills’s debut solo album, consisting entirely of his own songs, yielded his only major hit with “Love the One You’re With” and the moderate hit “Sit Yourself Down.” The album also featured “We Are Not Helpless” and the inebriated “Black Queen,” plus the instrumental “Old Times, Good Times” (featuring Jimi Hendrix) and “Go Back Home” (with Eric Clapton on second lead guitar). Stills’s second solo album included “Sugar Babe” and “Singin’ Call” and yielded moderate hits with “Change Partners” and “Marianne.” Conducting his first major solo tour in July 1971, in Oct. Stills formed Manassas with former Byrd and Flying Burrito Brother Chris Hillman and pedal steel guitarist Al Perkins. The group toured extensively and recorded two albums before breaking up in September 1973.

Meanwhile, David Crosby recorded his debut solo album If I Could Only Remember My Name. Featuring several songs composed of wordless vocal harmonies, the album contained Crosby’s “Laughing” and “Traction in the Rain,” as well as Nash, Young, and Crosby’s “Music Is Love” and the conspiratorial “What Are Their Names.” Graham Nash’s debut solo album, Songs for Beginners, produced moderate hits with the political songs “Chicago” and “Military Madness,” and included Nash’s “Better Days” and the old Hollies’ song “I Used to Be a King.”

In 1972, Crosby and Nash teamed for touring and an album that yielded a moderate hit with Nash’s “Immigration Man.” Nash recorded a second solo album in 1973, and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young conducted a summer-long stadium tour in 1974. Crosby and Nash subsequently recorded Wind on the Water and Whistling Down the Wire for ABC (later MCA), whereas Stills recorded three albums for Columbia through 1978. During 1976, Stills and Young formed the short-lived Stills-Young Band for one album on Reprise and an aborted tour. Crosby, Stills and Nash then regrouped for touring and 1977’s CSN, which included Stills’s “Dark Star” and the near- smash “Just a Song Before I Go” by Nash. Nash was a founding director of the antinuclear power Musicians United for Safe Energy (MUSE) and organizer of the “No Nukes” concerts of September 1979.

Crosby, Stills and Nash regrouped in 1982 for touring and Daylight Again, which yielded the near-smash hit “Wasted on the Way” and the major hit “Southern Cross.” The three continued to tour and record, while Stills recorded Right By You. Nash reunited with the Hollies’ Allan Clarke, Tony Hicks, and Bobby Elliott for the album What Goes Around in 1983 and solo-recorded Innocent Eyes in 1986. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young appeared at Live Aid in 1985.

David Crosby was arrested several times on drug and weapons charges in the early 1980s, leading to his imprisonment in Tex. in 1985 and 1986. Breaking his addiction to cocaine while in prison, he was paroled in September 1986 and exonerated of charges in November 1987. Putting his life back together, Crosby married longtime girlfriend Jan Dance in May 1987 and published the autobiography Long Time Gone in 1988.

Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young subsequently recorded their first studio release in 18 years, American Dream, and later Crosby recorded Oh Yes I Can solo for A&M Records. During the 1990s, Crosby, Stills and Nash recorded Live It Up and After the Storm and conducted an all- acoustic tour in 1992. Crosby recorded Thousand Roads, which included “Yvette in English,” cowritten with Joni Mitchell, and “Hero,” a moderate hit cowritten with Phil Collins. He underwent a liver transplant operation in November 1994. Crosby, Stills and Nash toured again in 1996 and 1997, the year they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

In 1995, David Crosby met his heretofore unknown son, James Raymond, with whom he formed the ironically named group CPR with Jeff Pevar. In 1998, Steve Stills’s son by actress Veronique Sanson, Chris, launched his solo recording career with 100 Year Thing on Atlantic Records.


CROSBY, STILLS AND NASH: Crosby, Stills and Nash (1969); Daylight Again (1982); Live It Up (1990). CROSBY, STILLS, NASH AND YOUNG: Deja Vu (1970); 4 Way Street (1971); So Far (1974); American Dream (1988). KOOPER, BLOOMFIELD , AND STILLS: Super Session (1968). STEPHEN STILLS: Stephen Stills (1970); Down the Road (1973); Stills (1975); Thoroughfare Gap (1978); Live (1979); Right by You (1984); Stills Alone (1991). MANASSAS : Manassas (1972). THE STILLS-YOUNG BAND : Long May You Run (1976). CHRI S STILLS: 100 Year Thing (1998). DAVI D CROSBY: If I Could Only Remember (1971); Oh Yes I Can (1989); Thousand Roads (1993); It’s All Coming Back to Me Now… (1995). CPR: CPR (1998). GRAHA M NASH: Songs for Beginners (1971); Earth and Sky (1980); Innocent Eyes (1986). THE HOLLIES (WITH GRAHA M NASH): What Goes Around (1983). DAVID CROSBY AND GRAHA M NASH: Graham Nash/David Crosby (1972); Live (1975); Wind on the Water (1975); Whistling Down the Wire (1976).


D. C. and C. Gottlieb, Long Time Gone: The Autobiography ofD. C. (N.Y., 1988).


D. Zimmer, Crosby, Stills and Nash: The Authorized Biography (N.Y., 1984).

—Brock Helander