Neil Young hails David Crosby as ‘the heart’ of their eponymous US supergroup

Neil Young has hailed musician David Crosby as “the heart” of their US rock supergroup, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.

The renowned singer-songwriter said Crosby had been “a very supportive friend in my early life” as well as a “catalyst of many things”.

Crosby died at the age of 81 following a “long illness”, his wife Jan Dance confirmed in a statement to US outlet Variety.

Along with Stephen Stills and Graham Nash, Crosby formed the eponymous rock group Crosby, Stills and Nash in 1968 – with Young joining a year later.

In his own tribute, posted on his website on Friday, Young wrote: “David is gone, but his music lives on. The soul of CSNY, David’s voice and energy were at the heart of our band.

“His great songs stood for what we believed in and it was always fun and exciting when we got to play together. Almost Cut My Hair, Dejavu, and so many other great songs he wrote were wonderful to jam on and Stills and I had a blast as he kept us going on and on.

“His singing with Graham was so memorable, their duo spot a highlight of so many of our shows.

He continued: “We had so many great times, especially in the early years. Crosby was a very supportive friend in my early life, as we bit off big pieces of our experience together. David was the catalyst of many things.

“My heart goes out to Jan and Django, his wife and son. Lots of love to you. Thanks David for your spirit and songs, Love you man. I remember the best times! Neil.”

Stills and Nash previously shared tributes to Crosby, who was described as the “glue that held us together as our vocals soared”.

The singer-songwriter rose to fame in LA-based folk-rock group The Byrds, who he joined in 1964 alongside Roger McGuinn, Gene Clark, Chris Hillman and Michael Clarke.

(Graham Nash/Instagram)
(Graham Nash/Instagram)

He collaborated on chart-topping hits including a cover of Bob Dylan’s Mr Tambourine Man, which leapt to number one in the US singles chart, and Turn! Turn! Turn!.

Shortly after leaving The Byrds in 1967, following a tumultuous tenure, he teamed up with Stills and Nash, to form their eponymous group.

“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,” wrote Stills, in a statement shared with the PA news agency.

“I am deeply saddened at his passing and shall miss him beyond measure.”

Sharing a picture of Crosby’s engraved guitar case on Instagram, Nash, a founding member of The Hollies band, wrote: “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.”

The 80-year-old added that his heart is with Crosby’s wife, son and “all of the people he has touched in this world”.

During his time in the band Crosby wrote Guinnevere, Almost Cut My Hair, Long Time Gone, Delta and Deja Vu – however constant clashing led the band to topple in the 1970s.

Over the years, the band sporadically re-grouped, including when Crosby and Nash recorded and toured regularly.

Crosby was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice for his role in both The Byrds and Crosby, Stills and Nash.

In a statement to US outlet Variety, his wife Jan wrote: “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.

Music – The Byrds – London
The Byrds arriving in London for their UK tour, featuring bandmembers Mike Clarke, Chris Hillman, David Crosby (centre), Jim McGuinn and Gene Clark (PA Archive/PA Images)

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

Born in 1941, Crosby was the child of Oscar-winning cinematographer Floyd Crosby, and gravitated to acting and music at an early age.

Crosby joined forces with Becca Stevens, Michelle Willis and Michael League – known as The Lighthouse Band – in 2016 before their 2018 tour in support of Crosby’s seventh solo album Here If You Listen.

It was a year later that his documentary David Crosby: Remember My Name, produced by Cameron Crowe and in which he speaks about his own mortality, was released.