Stephen Stills: David Crosby’s “Harmonic Sensitivity Was Downright Brilliant”

Stephen Stills: David Crosby’s “Harmonic Sensitivity Was Downright Brilliant”

David Crosby’s influence both as a solo artist and as a member of the Byrds and Crosby, Stills and Nash helped shape the sound of sixties rock and beyond. Following his death at the age of 81, Stephen Stills remembered the singer, songwriter and guitarist of her supergroup trio.

Stills paid tribute to his fellow musicians in a moving message to Rolling Stone.

“I read a quote attributed to the composer by Gustav Mahler in the newspaper this morning and was puzzled for a moment:

‘Death has entered the room on gentle cat’s paws.’

I should have known something was up.

David and I bumped our heads many times over the years, but it was mostly glancing blows that still left our heads numb.

I was glad to be at peace with him.

He was unquestionably a giant of a musician, and his harmonic sensibility was nothing short of genius.

The glue that held us together as our vocals soared towards the sun like Icarus.

I am deeply saddened by his death and will miss him immensely.”

Just months after leaving the Byrds in 1967, Crosby met with Stills and Graham Nash at Joni Mitchell’s home and discovered their incredible blend of vocals. The first song the trio sang together was “You Don’t Have to Cry”. The trio hit the studio a few months later to record their debut LP. Crosby contributed the song “Long Time Gone”.


In the summer of 1970, near the peak of their popularity, the group went on an indefinite hiatus. They would reunite in 1977 when Crosby, Stills & Nash regrouped for the quadruple platinum CSN and toured extensively as the original trio the same year after reforming.

Shortly after being expelled from the Byrds, Crosby formed the supergroup with Buffalo Springfield’s Stills and Hollies’ Nash. The trio – which became a quartet in 1969 when Neil Young joined them – played an important role in the development of folk rock, country rock and the emerging “California sound” that dominated rock radio in the mid-’70s .