American singer-songwriter-guitarist and rock star David Crosby who was part of the enormously influential ’60s rock band, the Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash has died. He was 81.
His death came as a surprise to those who followed his very active Twitter account, which he’d kept tweeting on as recently as Wednesday. One of Crosby’s final tweets the day before he died was to make a typically jocular comment about heaven: “I heard the place is overrated… cloudy.”
The singer’s wife Jan Dance had earlier told entertainment outlet Variety that Crosby passed following a long illness.
“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,” read his wife’s statement.
“Peace, love, and harmony to all who knew David and those he touched. We will miss him dearly.”
The two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Famer — known as much for his alternative guitar tunings, lush harmonies and abstract lyrics as for his pacifist activism, brutal honesty and living dangerously — remained a prolific artist throughout his life.
Eight months ago, Crosby made headlines when he said he was done performing live, declaring, “I’m too old to do it anymore. I don’t have the stamina; I don’t have the strength.” But he said he was recording as busily as possible: “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.
Crosby was born in Los Angeles, California in 1941 as the son of Oscar-winning cinematographer Floyd Crosby, who won an Oscar for his work on the 1931 film “Tabu” and Aliph Van Cortlandt Whitehead, a Macy’s department store salesperson.
He joined the Byrds in 1964, which scored their first hit with Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man.” Crosby, Stills & Nash, which became Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young once Neil Young joined, were founded the following year and released a series of hits including “Marrakesh Express,” “Just a Song Before I Go,” and “Woodstock.”
While his success continued into 1980s, heavy drug use hurt his career and led to a nine-month jail sentence in a Texas state prison in 1985.