David Crosby death: Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash musician dies aged 81

David Crosby has died at the age of 81 “after a long illness”.

The musician was a founding member of the hugely popular Sixties groups, the Byrds and Crosby, as well as Crosby, Stills & Nash.

In a statement given to Variety, Crosby’s wife Jan Dance said: “It is with great sadness after a long illness, that our beloved David (Croz) Crosby has passed away. He was lovingly surrounded by his wife and soulmate Jan and son Django.

“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. Peace, love, and harmony to all who knew David and those he touched.”

The statement continued: “We will miss him dearly. At this time, we respectfully and kindly ask for privacy as we grieve and try to deal with our profound loss. Thank you for the love and prayers.”

Last year, Crosby shocked followers on Twitter by announcing that he was “too old” to tour anymore.

“I don’t have the stamina; I don’t have the strength,” the musician tweeted. He did, however, stipulate that he was still recording music prolifically: “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.”

David Crosby at Glastonbury Festival in 2009 (PA Archive)
David Crosby at Glastonbury Festival in 2009 (PA Archive)

Crosby was born in Los Angeles, California, on 14 August 1941 to Academy Award-winning cinematographer Floyd Crosby and Aliph Van Cortlandt Whitehead.

The artist was known for being outspoken about both cultural issues and his fellow musicians. He was sacked from his first band The Byrds in 1967, in part because he’d used their performance at the Monterey Pop Festival to make lengthy political speeches.

He was held as a figurehead for the American hippie movement of the Sixties and Seventies thanks to tracks like “Almost Cut My Hair”. Speaking about the record to Kevin EG Perry for The Independent in 2021, Crosby said: “We were trying to differentiate ourselves from the previous generation.

“It was a simple visual clue that we were different, and we liked that. I still like having my hair long, for two reasons. Because I think it looks better that way, but I also like it because it does say: ‘Hey, I’m a hippie, and I believe certain things.’ And yes, I do. I think love is better than war. You can convict me of that one.”

In 1983 he was convicted of possessing a .45-caliber handgun and cocaine, serving a nine-month stint in a Texas state prison.

The sentence allowed him to get clean and, years later, Crosby was reunited with his estranged son James Raymond – whom his mother had put up for adoption after he was born.

“He gave me a clean slate, and let me earn my way into his life. We became very, very close, and that’s a f***ing gift of gigantic proportions, man. It’s f***ing wonderful,” Crosby told Perry.

Raymond went on to produce three of the five albums Crosby released following his 2014 comeback. Crosby was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, first as a member of the Byrds in 1991 and secondly for his work with Crosby, Stills & Nash in 1997.

He is survived by his widow, Dance, and four children.