He was a singer-songwriter, guitarist and producer born David van Cortlandt Crosby in Santa Barbara, California into a family where his father was the cinematographer Floyd Crosby who won an Academy Award in 1931 for Tabu and also worked on High Noon and The Pit and the Pendulum.
Starting out on his musical journey he used to appear in his school musicals and sing in Santa Barbara coffeehouses before going on to become a drama student. This wasn’t for him though and he decided to pursue a musical career and became a member of the folk group Les Baxter’s Balladeers.
In 1963 he ventured out as a solo artist where he cut his own work in the studio for the first time and sometime between then and 1964 he teamed up with Gene Clark and Roger McGuinn as a member of the group The Jet Set which would become the successful group The Byrds. They were later joined by Michael Clarke and Chris Hillman and recorded “Mr. Tambourine Man” after obtaining a Bob Dylan demo of it. This went to No. 1 on the Billboard Chart and put them on the musical map. Turning his hand to songwriting for the group as well as appearing as rhythm guitarist and singer, he co-wrote “Eight Miles High” along with many others for the group. He has also been cited as one of the people being responsible for bringing to light and popularising the song “Hey Joe” which was recorded by The Leaves, The Byrds and The Surfaris and later became the first single by The Jimi Hendrix Experience.
After some problems with the other members of The Byrds when he substituted for Neil Young in Buffalo Springfield at Monterey and the non-use of his song “Triad” reportedly because of the subject matter, he started to stay out of sessions and was subsequently let go by the group. Not staying out of work for long, he met up with Stephen Stills in 1968 at a party given by Cass Elliott and they decided to meet up and jam together. Not long after, Graham Nash joined them after leaving The Hollies and their album Crosby, Stills & Nash soared up the charts as well as producing hit singles for them. They were joined by Neil Young in 1969 and recorded Deja vu, with David writing the title track and “Almost Cut My Hair”. They followed that by releasing Four Way Street and then the group members took time out to follow their solo careers.
He appeared in the band David and the Dorks in 1970 with members of Grateful Dead, recorded a solo album in 1971, recorded Crosby & Nash with Graham Nash in 1972 and then CSNY got back together in 1973. Things did not go as planned though and constant arguments between the members resulted in the album they were recording being cancelled, although they did complete a re-union tour in 1974. A further attempt at recording an album in 1976 also failed and this would mark the end of CSNY performing as a foursome. The loss of Neil Young did not deter the remaining members though and they got back together in 1977 and carried on as CSN until 1985 when Neil Young joined them back on stage for Live Aid in 1985.
1985 also saw him being arrested for drug related offences and spending the next year in jail in Texas. This re-union was a lot more successful, however, and further albums were released in 1988 and 2000.
In between these two albums his personal life made the news twice, starting in 1995 when he took time out for medical reasons to be given a liver transplant. Then 2000 saw him being named as the father of Melissa Etheridge’s two children after she had been artificially inseminated.
2000 onwards then saw him touring with CSNY three times in 2000, 2002 and 2006. He has also been a member of CPR since 1998, David Crosby, Jeff Pevar & his son James Raymond, and recorded several albums with them.
Working with a multitude of acts during his career he has performed and/or written songs with Jackson Browne, Jimmy Buffett, Marc Cohn, Dan Fogelberg, Jefferson Airplane, Indigo Girls, Carole King, Nicolette Larson , Kenny Loggins, Joni Mitchell, Stevie Nicks, Bonnie Raitt, John Sebastian, Grace Slick, among others.
The countless albums he appeared on during the course of his career include the ones mentioned above and his own If I Could Only Remember My Name, It’s All Coming Back To Me Now, Oh Yes I Can and Thousand Roads as well as Turn! Turn! Turn! by The Byrds, But Seriously… by Phil Collins , Just Like Gravity by CPR, Wind on the Water by Crosby & Nash, Daylight Again by Crosby, Stills & Nash, Replay by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Under the Red Sky by Bob Dylan , Stories We Could Tell by The Everly Brothers, Breakaway by Art Garfunkel , Cracked Rear View by Hootie & The Blowfish, Blue Moves by Elton John , Songs for Beginners by Graham Nash, Black Rose by John David Souther , In the Pocket by James Taylor and Harvest by Neil Young and the soundtracks of Flipper, 1969 and Strawberry Statement among many others.
No stranger to the acting studio either he made several appearances in movies such as Backdraft, Hook and Thunderheart as well as TV’s The John Laroquette Show, Roseanne and The Simpsons.
2006 saw David recording On An Island with David Gilmour as well as touring the United States and appearing at the Royal Albert Hall in London with him. He also recently released his autobiography Since Then. In 2014 he released his first solo album in 20 years entitled Croz and in 2016 the further album Lighthouse with an accompanying tour.
In recognition for his contribution to music he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice as a member of The Byrds and CSN.
He died in January 2023 when he was 81 years old.
Here he is singing his “Thousand Roads”….