David Crosby Biography
Claim to Fame: Singer (The Byrds and Crosby, Stills, & Nash)
DOB: August 14, 1941
Diabetes Type: 1
A pioneering member of the innovative and musically significant West Coast folk-rock sound of the 60’s, David Crosby’s career is a rich mosaic of noteworthy artistic experiences and culturally influential chance happenings. The iconic member of the The Byrds and Crosby, Stills, & Nash, like many of his contemporaries, became part of a generation characterized by tremendous creativity, social change, and relentless self-destruction brought on by drugs, alcohol, and a defiant, anti-establishment mentality.
Born in Los Angeles, California, David grew up in a highly artistic and creative household. The second son of Aliph Van Cortlandt Whitehead and Academy Award winning cinematographer, Floyd Crosby, he is the younger brother of Ethan Crosby, a fellow musician of lesser fame. David grew up in Los Angeles, but moved between schools until his graduation, never excelling academically. However, he was a talented singer and actor, performing throughout his childhood in various school and youth productions in the area.
Crosby attended Santa Barbara City College where he studied drama, until he dropped out to pursue a career in music. Following the trend of the time, Crosby quickly found himself in New York’s Greenwich Village, a hub for musicians and artists of the 60’s. A powerful songwriter, Crosby had success early on performing in clubs and coffeehouses, but in 1963, with the help of producer Jim Dickinson, Crosby released his first solo album. He returned to L.A. and joined with folk singers Roger McGuinn and Gene Clark who, along with Chris Hillman and Micheal Clarke, later formed the successful 60’s group The Byrds.
Despite the success of the band, Crosby left in 1967. The break occurred as a result of tension between Crosby and his band members over political attitudes expressed openly and aggressively by Crosby on stage at the Monterrey Pop Festival. Crosby’s developing friendship with Buffalo Springfield’s Steven Stills added to the tension between the Byrds members. One night, Neal Young was unable to perform for Buffalo Springfield and Stills asked Crosby to fill in for Young. Crosby agreed, angering McGuinn and Hillman to the point that they no longer wanted Crosby as a member of the Byrds. Upon leaving, Crosby collaborated with Steven Stills and Graham Nash, forming the power group Crosby, Stills and Nash. The trio had immediate success, being praised as “ the voice of a generation” and awarded a Grammy in 1969 for Best New Artists.
All three members of CSN enjoyed successful solo careers as well, though often reuniting and performing together. Despite changing trends in music, both Crosby and Nash have kept their fans and continue to perform to this day. As social activist, Crosby has recently appeared in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement and, along with Nash, have performed for the crowds in New York. Crosby has also written a number of books chronicling his life and career as a musician, performing during times of great social change.
Crosby still performs regularly, despite having type 1 diabetes. In an interview with Spinner.com, Crosby addressed his diabetes and spoke openly about his approach to managing his blood sugar while on the road, stating, “My son, James Raymond, plays piano in our band, and we spend a lot of time walking for my health…I gave up bread, and I've lost a bunch of weight, which is very good because I'm diabetic. I'm older than I'd like and I'm creaky, but I'm doing alright."
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