Neil Young has released a statement on the passing of his longtime Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young bandmate David Crosby, who died yesterday (Jan. 19) at the age of 81. Young and Crosby stopped speaking in 2014 after Crosby made disparaging comments about Young’s wife Daryl Hannah, but his tribute focuses on the iconic music the pair created together over the course of 40-plus years.
“David is gone, but his music lives on,” Young wrote on his Neil Young Archives website. “The soul of CSNY, David’s voice and energy were at the heart of our band. His great songs stood for what we believed in and it was always fun and exciting when we got to play together. ‘Almost Cut My Hair’ and ‘Deja Vu,’ and so many other great songs he wrote were wonderful to jam on and [Stephen] Stills and I had a blast as he kept going on and on. His singing with Graham [Nash] was memorable, their duo spot a highlight of so many of our shows.
“We had so many great times, especially in the early years,” he continued. “Crosby was a very supportive friend in my early life, as we bit off big pieces of our experience together. David was the catalyst of many things. My heart goes out to Jan and Django, his wife and son. Lots of love to you. Thanks David for your spirit and songs, Love you man. I remember the best times!”
Young, Crosby, Stills, and Nash were drawn together by the heady stew of Los Angeles’ thriving Laurel Canyon neighborhood in 1969, and released their first album as a quartet, Deja Vu, in 1970. In various permutations, they would share harmonies, lovers, drugs, and stages over the ensuing decades, but arguably their best moments were captured on that album, which featured classics such as “Carry On,” “Teach Your Children,” “Almost Cut My Hair,” “Helpless,” the Joni Mitchell-penned “Woodstock,” and “Our House.”
The musicians played together on and off in various incarnations until 2013, but never regrouped after Crosby called Hannah a “purely poisonous predator” in an interview the following year with the Idaho Statesman (he would apologize repeatedly over the years). By 2017, Young seemed to have softened on the idea of a reunion, telling Mojo that he thought CSNY had “every chance of getting together again. I’m not against it. There’s been a lot of bad things happening among us, and a lot of things have to be settled. But that’s what brothers and families are all about. We’ll see what happens. I’m open. I don’t think I’m a major obstacle.”
The closest thing to a rapprochement came in early 2022, when Crosby, Nash, and Stills removed their discographies from Spotify in solidarity with Young, who pulled his catalog after the streaming service refused to take action against The Joe Rogan Experience‘s spread of COVID-19 and vaccine misinformation.
“We support Neil and we agree with him that there is dangerous disinformation being aired on Spotify’s Joe Rogan podcast,” the musicians said at the time. “While we always value alternate points of view, knowingly spreading disinformation during this global pandemic has deadly consequences. Until real action is taken to show that a concern for humanity must be balanced with commerce, we don’t want our music — or the music we made together — to be on the same platform.”