Crosby died on January 18, 2023, at the age of 81. A statement from his family said that he died "after a long illness". However, friends and colleagues described his death as "sudden", saying that Crosby had remained active until the day of his death, working on plans for a tour and a new album.
David Crosby was a great American singer, guitarist, and songwriter. He was a founding member of both the Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash, and also embarked on a solo career.
Crosby joined the Byrds in 1964. They had their first number-one hit in 1965 with a cover of Bob Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man". Crosby appeared on the Byrds' first five albums and produced the original lineup's 1973 reunion album. In 1968, he formed Crosby, Stills & Nash (CSN) with Stephen Stills and Graham Nash.
After the release of their debut album, CSN won the Grammy Award for Best New Artist of 1969. Neil Young joined the group for live appearances, their second concert being Woodstock, before recording their second album Déjà Vu. Meant to be a band that could collaborate freely, Crosby & Nash recorded three gold albums in the 1970s, while the core trio of CSN remained active from 1976 until 2016. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (CSNY) reunions were held in each decade from the 1970s through the 2000s. Crosby's work with the Byrds and CSNY has sold over 35 million albums.
Crosby released seven solo albums, albeit sporadically, over the course of his career. His solo debut was 1971's If I Could Only Remember My Name. The last four of his solo albums, beginning with Croz (2014), came in the last decade of his life. Additionally, he formed a jazz-influenced trio with his son James Raymond and guitarist Jeff Pevar in CPR.
Crosby was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice: once for his work in the Byrds and again for his work with CSN. Five albums to which he contributed are included in Rolling Stone's list of "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time", three with the Byrds and two with CSN(Y). Crosby was outspoken politically and was sometimes depicted as emblematic of the counterculture of the 1960s.
In 1971, Crosby released his first solo album, If I Could Only Remember My Name, featuring contributions by Nash, Young, Joni Mitchell, and members of Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead, and Santana.
As a duo, Crosby & Nash (C&N) released four studio albums and two live albums, including Another Stoney Evening, which features the duo in a 1971 acoustic performance with no supporting band. Crosby songs recorded by C&N in the 1970s include "Whole Cloth", "Where Will I Be?", "Page 43", "Games", "The Wall Song", "Carry Me", "Bittersweet", "Naked in the Rain" (co-written with Nash), "Low Down Payment", "Homeward Through the Haze", "Time After Time", "Dancer", "Taken at All" (also co-written with Nash), and "Foolish Man". During the mid-1970s, Crosby and Nash enjoyed careers as session musicians, contributing harmonies and background vocals to albums by Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne (whom Crosby had initially championed as an emerging songwriter), Dave Mason, Rick Roberts, James Taylor (most notably "Lighthouse" and "Mexico"), Art Garfunkel, Carole King, Elton John, J.D. Souther, and Gary Wright.
Crosby worked with Phil Collins occasionally from the late 1980s to the early 1990s. He sang backup to Collins in "That's Just the Way It Is" and "Another Day in Paradise", and, on his own 1993 song, "Hero", from his album Thousand Roads, Collins sang backup. In 1992, Crosby sang backup on the album Rites of Passage with the Indigo Girls on the tracks Galileo and Let it Be Me. In 1999, he appeared on Return of the Grievous Angel: A Tribute to Gram Parsons, singing a duet of the title track with Lucinda Williams.
In 2006, Crosby and Nash worked with David Gilmour as backing vocalists on the latter's third solo album, On an Island. The album was released in March 2006 and reached No. 1 on the UK charts. They also performed live with Gilmour in his concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London in May 2006 and toured together in the United States, as can be seen on Gilmour's 2007 DVD Remember That Night. They also sang backup on the title track of John Mayer's 2012 album Born and Raised.
In January 2014, Crosby released his first solo album in 20 years, Croz, recorded in close collaboration with his son James Raymond (of the CPR band) at the latter's home studio.
On July 14, 2016, Crosby announced a new solo album named Lighthouse, which was released on October 21, 2016, and shared a new track from it titled "Things We Do for Love". The album was produced by Michael League of the big band Snarky Puppy, whom he met on Twitter, and also featured contributions by future collaborators Becca Stevens and Michelle Willis. On August 26, 2016, Crosby announced a U.S. tour, an 18-date trek to launch on November 18, 2016, in Atlanta, Georgia, and to conclude on December 16, 2016, in Ithaca, New York. He also spoke out against Donald Trump during the latter's presidential campaign.
In September 2017, Crosby announced a solo album (his third one of original material in four years and his sixth in total) entitled Sky Trails, again with Raymond, to be released on September 29, 2017, on BMG.
In April 2018, Crosby appeared on NPR's Live from Here, playing duets with host Chris Thile.
On October 26, 2018, Crosby released Here If You Listen on BMG, his first collaborative album with League, Stevens, and Willis, all members of the Lighthouse band. The band also toured from November to December of that same year.
In July 2021, Crosby released what would become his final studio album, For Free. This was followed by the release of the 50th-anniversary expanded version of If I Could Only Remember My Name on October 15. It contains remastered songs as well as demos from the original recording sessions. During promotion for the rerelease, Crosby said that his second collaborative album with League, Stevens, and Willis was in the works. The result, Crosby's final release, was a live album recorded during the band's tour, Live at the Capitol Theatre, released October 4, 2022.