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David Crosby passes away at age 81

Updated: Jan 21, 2023

David Crosby, singer songwriter, guitarist has died at the age of 81. Crosby was a founding member of the folk band, The Byrds and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Two massively influential bands from the 60s. There is no cause of death at this time, but he was tweeting the night before he passed about heaven, saying "I heard the place is overrated and cloudy."

I got to photograph Crosby, Stills and Nash in September of 2012 at The Fillmore in San Francisco. It was a super memorable shoot for me. I'm not a late person, and actually I dont like being late, especially for a gig. But this night, I arrived a couple minutes after the show began due to unforeseen circumstances on the journey into the city that evening. I made my way up to the stage, had my camera out and ready to shoot, and I see David Crosby, a few feet in front of me, giving me the dirtiest looks ever. In fact, if the saying, 'if looks could kill', really happened, I'm convinced, I wouldn't be here today. I shot the first couple songs and the entire time I remember thinking that by his demeanor and the way he's projecting negative vibes my way, I really thought he was going to jump off the stage and smash my gear right then during the show. The audience seemed to be unfriendly as well. It was all an extremely unusual experience for me, and that's why it was so memorable. Maybe he had a bad day. But whatever was going on with him on that evening, I was thrilled to have seen them play. The music was melodic, and tight and beautifully performed by these icons of the 60s.

And then, from that night in 2012 to June of 2022 when I was interviewing Henry Diltz, (legendary rock photographer), at NAMM. Henry was the main CSNY photographer from the beginning. He was simply one of the group of friends. Henry was the friend in that group of friends that owned not only a guitar, but also a camera. So he turned into the group photographer. Whilst chatting to Henry, I told him about my experience shooting that gig in 2012, and how scary David Crosby seemed. He assured me it wasn't me, and he went on to say that most people would've have had a similar experience with Crosby...he wasn't known for being a soft and cuddly guy. But, oh boy what a great musician! Although Crosby was never the principal songwriter in either the Byrds or CSN & Y, he was an integral part of the densely layered harmony front line that launched both those acts’ multiple chart hits.

Graham Nash had been estranged from Crosby for several years, he said today on social media, "It is with a deep and profound sadness that I learned that my friend David Crosby has passed,” Nash wrote. “I know people tend to focus on how volatile our relationship has been at times, but what has always mattered to David and me more than anything was the pure joy of the music we created together, the sound we discovered with one another, and the deep friendship we shared over all these many long years. David was fearless in life and in music. He leaves behind a tremendous void as far as sheer personality and talent in this world. He spoke his mind, his heart, and his passion through his beautiful music and leaves an incredible legacy. These are the things that matter most. My heart is truly with his wife, Jan, his son, Django, and all of the people he has touched in this world.”

As recent as eight months ago David Crosby declared that he was retiring from performing live and would only record from then on. He said, “I’m too old to do it anymore. I don’t have the stamina; I don’t have the strength. I’ve been making records at a startling rate. … Now I’m 80 years old so I’m gonna die fairly soon. That’s how that works. And so I’m trying really hard to crank out as much music as I possibly can, as long as it’s really good… I have another one already in the can waiting.” He then said as recent as December of 2022 that he changed his mind and he thinks he's starting another band and going out to play live!

In recent years, as CSNY had seemed irrevocably split up, it was clear that what Crosby had wanted most of all was to reconcile with those bandmates. Stephen Stills said in his own statement Thursday night that their relationship had ended peacefully. Even though a reconciliation was not going to happen. Stills wrote, “David and I butted heads a lot over time, but they were mostly glancing blows, yet still left us numb skulls,” Stills continued. “I was happy to be at peace with him. He was without question a giant of a musician, and his harmonic sensibilities were nothing short of genius. The glue that held us together as our vocals soared, like Icarus, towards the sun. I am deeply saddened at his passing and shall miss him beyond measure.”

David Crosby August 14, 1941 - January 18, 2023

Here are a few of my photos from that September 2012 Fillmore show...

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Great photos, and another great story told!

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