West News Wire: According to various media reports, David Crosby, the boisterous rock musician who went from being a baby-faced harmony vocalist with the Byrds to a mustachioed hippie celebrity and an enduring troubadour with Crosby, Stills, Nash & (sometimes) Young, has passed away at the age of 81.
According to a text message from Crosby’s sister-in-law, the musician passed away on Wednesday night, according to the New York Times. Many media sites used unnamed sources to report Crosby’s passing.
After years of drug abuse, Crosby got a liver transplant in 1994 and recovered from diabetes, hepatitis C, and heart surgery by the time he was in his 70s.
While he only wrote a handful of widely known songs, the witty and ever opinionated Crosby was on the front lines of the cultural revolution of the ’60s and ’70s — whether triumphing with Stephen Stills, Graham Nash and Neil Young on stage at Woodstock, testifying on behalf of a hirsute generation in his anthem “Almost Cut My Hair” or mourning the assassination of Robert Kennedy in “Long Time Gone.”
He was a founder and focus of the Los Angeles rock music community from which such performers as the Eagles and Jackson Browne later emerged. He was a twinkly-eyed hippie patriarch, the inspiration for Dennis Hopper’s long-haired stoner in “Easy Rider.” He advocated for peace, but was an unrepentant loudmouth who practiced personal warfare and acknowledged that many of the musicians he worked with no longer spoke to him.
“Crosby was a colorful and unpredictable character, wore a Mandrake the Magician cape, didn’t get along with too many people and had a beautiful voice an architect of harmony,” Bob Dylan wrote in his 2004 memoir, “Chronicles: Volume One.”
Crosby’s drug use left him bloated, broke and alienated. He kicked the addiction in 1985 and 1986 during a year’s prison stretch in Texas on drug and weapons charges. The conviction eventually was overturned.
“I’ve always said that I picked up the guitar as a shortcut to sex and after my first joint I was sure that if everyone smoked dope there’d be an end to war,” Crosby said in his 1988 autobiography, “Long Time Gone,” co-written with Carl Gottlieb. “I was right about the sex. I was wrong when it came to drugs.”
He lived years longer than even he expected and in his 70s enjoyed a creative renaissance, issuing several solo albums while collaborating with others including his son James Raymond, who became a favorite songwriting partner.
Crosby married longtime girlfriend Jan Dance in 1987. The couple had a son, Django, in 1995. Crosby also had a daughter, Donovan, with Debbie Donovan. Shortly after he underwent the liver transplant, Crosby was reunited with Raymond, who had been placed for adoption in 1961. Raymond, Crosby and Jeff Pevar later performed together in a group called CPR.