The time Michel Rivard sang with Crosby, Stills & Nash

The time Michel Rivard sang with Crosby, Stills & Nash

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In 1988, Michel Rivard received a letter from Graham Nash in his mailbox. “He asked me if I would like to take part in a concert with them. “She who? Her: Crosby, Stills & Nash. “Listen, I was floating,” the Quebec singer-songwriter recalled the day after the death of one of the three members of the mythical trio, David Crosby.

Posted at 11:20am


The International Association of Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War organized a major peace concert at the Montreal Forum on June 3, 1988, on the fringes of its world congress, while a meeting between US President Ronald Reagan and his Soviet counterpart Mikhail Gorbachev was taking place at the same time in Moscow.

The standard-bearers of the cause, David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash, had long been dedicated to nuclear proliferation. Their 1969 song Wooden Ships, which Crosby and Stills co-wrote with Jefferson Airplane’s Paul Kantner, depicts a world where a few survivors drift aimlessly in the wake of a nuclear holocaust.

At the peak of popularity, of which his album A hole in the clouds (1987) had given him a foretaste, Michel Rivard was invited “as a representative of Québec culture” to take part in this happening. Folk singer Bruce Cockburn will represent English Canada and Aquarium, the Soviet Union.

The time Michel Rivard sang with Crosby Stills Nash


Michael Rivard

And since Crosby, Stills & Nash had no musicians to accompany them that night, Rivard’s Flybin Band was signed on to play with the trio for Teach Your Children (1968), the quintessential hippie anthem. . Michel Rivard will even translate a passage into French. “Rick [Haworth, guitariste] had learned the entire Pedal Steel score note by note. We were on a little cloud. »

On cloud nine, because Michel Rivard has admired Crosby since the Byrds, a pioneering folk rock band formed in California in 1964. “I had tremendous admiration for his sense of harmony. And when Crosby, Stills & Nash released their first album, Pierre Bertrand et moi, in 1969, we were screwed. It had a major impact on Beau Dommage’s vocal harmonies. »

“Come to my dressing room”

The highlight of the evening at the Forum, however, comes when Crosby, Stills and Nash join Rivard to embellish Je would like to see the sea with their legendary and inimitable muddled voices. Stephen Stills even goes there with a rather inspired acoustic guitar solo. “I don’t know if we hear it on the recording, but at one point I had to correct stills. He sang “I would like to drink the sea”, says Michel Rivard and laughs.

The recording also features a healthy and mustachioed David Crosby, whose face lights up when his comrade Nash strays towards the end of the song. It so happens that whoever was nicknamed Croz in 1988 is a new man. Three years earlier, in 1985, he had spent nine months in a Texas prison after being convicted of drug and firearm possession, a stopover for which he said he was filled with gratitude and his raging crack addiction without him probably would have swallowed.

For me it was extraordinary to find myself by his side because when you admire someone and learn that coke has taken over their life so much that they have become a human wreck and that three years later that rag is in the best of health you sings with you, it’s a nice big lesson. His talent was intact.

Michel Rivard, on David Crosby

Michel Rivard remembers Stephen Stills as “a little grumpy but totally present”, Graham Nash as “utterly lovable, a real British gentleman” and David Crosby as “a big bear, happy to be there”. And once he started singing, it was angelic. »

“At one point Crosby had said to me and Bruce Cockburn, ‘Come into my dressing room and I’ll do you some business.’ He presented us with songs from his next solo album [Oh Yes I Can, 1989]. Listen, my hair stands up just thinking about it. »

Since then, Michel Rivard had remained faithful to the work of David Crosby, whose last years were marked by an astounding and admirable creative renaissance. Five of the eight albums that make up his solo discography have been released as of 2014. create to the end. »