Remembering David Crosby

Graphics by Kasvi Bhatia
Graphics by Kasvi Bhatia

David Crosby passed away on Thursday, January 19th, age 81. He made dozens of albums with the Byrds, Crosby Stills Nash & Young (and in various combinations of same), and as a solo artist. WERS Brand Manager Ken West recalls a particularly special show, almost forty years into Crosby's career.

My breath stopped. It was March 2000 and the Fleet Center (aka the Gahden) was silent, except for the introductory guitar notes of one of my favorite Crosby Stills & Nash songs.  “Holy s***.  ‘Guinevere.’  Can they pull this off?” 

The first CSN tour with Y (Neil Young) since 1974 had the foursome pulling out hits, deep cuts, and solo songs. We’d marveled at their power, relevance, and the sheer beauty of the highest-level of harmonies. Simply put, CSN (and sometimes Y) are the holy grail of vocal harmony. Fair or not, every group before or after them can only live in their harmony shadow. Although not “technically” a fact, it is not hyperbole. It’s not close. They are IT. 

But these songs were 30 years old, which meant their singers were also 30 years older. They had been through a LOT of stuff, especially Croz. Drugs, jail, police chases, band arguments, weapons, liver transplant, finding a son he never knew he had. Again, I asked:  “Can they pull this off?”  

After :30+ seconds (felt like an hour) of soft, entrancing guitar they stepped to the mics.  3 spotlights.  3 beautiful voices.  “Guinevere…had green eyes.  LIke yours. Lady like yours…”   And I exhaled. And smiled.  “Holy s***.  They nailed it.”  Even Croz.  He hit those high notes like he did 30 years before.  

And I realized no matter how many years had gone by, or how many demons he had wrestled (and beaten,) David Crosby was a musician. Put on this earth to spread joy, peace, and powerful messages against what he thought was wrong.  Never stopping, never backing down. Saying whatever he felt, even if it pissed people off.  And doing it with a voice that could be both angelic and snarling.  And he did it all his life, long after he had started the Byrds in the 60’s, the heyday of CSN, and even long after that CSN&Y 2000 concert.  He was even planning to do some more.  

RIP Croz.  We’ll miss you, your music and your Twitter page.

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in studio performances