RIP David Crosby at age 81. It might have been covid, but…

David Crosby was an interesting cat. Consider:

  • He was a member of not one but two legendary bands: The Byrds (1964-68) and Crosby, Still, Nash and sometimes Young (1968-70, 1973-74, and 1976-2015). Crosby was inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with both groups.
  • He was a curmudgeonly dude, highly opinionated (political and social issues) and sometimes prone to conspiracy theories (you did NOT want to get him started on the JFK assassination), and quick to anger.
  • He was part of the Laurel Canyon crowd and went out with Joni Mitchell for a while. (He never, ever got over her.)
  • He wasn’t particularly great with money. Despite having written dozens of songs including many big hits, he always seemed thisclose to some kind of financial crisis. Late in life, he was very open about his money problems. This led to his selling his catalogue to Hipgnosis for an undisclosed amount in 2021.
  • Crosby drank a lot. And did a lot of drugs. A lot of drugs, including coke and smack.
  • Despite that, he donated his sperm to Julie Cypher, the then-partner of Melissa Etheridge. He fathered two children that way: a girl, Bailey (1997), and a son, Beckett (1998). Etheridge pays tribute to Crosby here.
  • He was well-known to law enforcement. In 1985, he spent nine months in a Texas penitentiary on drugs and weapons charges. That same year, he was arrested for drunk driving and a hit-and-run. Oh, and more drug stuff. And another weapons charge. After checking out of a NYC hotel room in 2004, he left a few things behind. When the cops tracked him down, Crosby was charged with criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree, illegal possession of a hunting knife, and illegal possession of ammunition.

David had been in poor health for some time before he died on January 19. His most public health issue was in 1994 when he received a liver transplant because he so completely destroyed his OEM model. There was quite a bit of fuss surrounding that. First, he couldn’t afford it (Phil Collins paid for the procedure) and second, people wondered why he should get a valuable new liver over someone who (a) wasn’t a celebrity, (b) didn’t drown their original organ in alcohol, and (c) didn’t have hepatitis C from drug use. Nevertheless, the transplant was a success.

However, anyone with a transplant history tends to be immunosuppressed. Crosby also suffered from Type 2 diabetes and needed to take insulin. He also needed a cardiac catheterization in 2014. Those are three major comorbidities. Although there has been no announcement of the cause of death, there’s a credible suggestion that the thing that finally got him was COVID.

About eight months ago, Crosby announced that he was done with performing live, saying that he was too old and ill. But just before Christmas, he dropped hints that he was thinking about forming another new band.

I interviewed him once as part of the screening of a biographical film. I was supposed to conduct the interview over Skype in front of a live audience. The Skype connection didn’t work, of course, so he called my iPhone and I held my mic up to the speaker so the audience could hear. It was a lovely chat,

The end came quick; he’d been tweeting last late as the day before he died.

Read more here.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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