Sixties Survivors #3: David Crosby

Personally, I think Boomers get too much credit for stuff they had nothing to do with.  Take the creation of modern rock music in the 1960s.  Face it, boomers, the oldest possible member of your illustrious group was born nine months after V-J Day, which comes out to be June, 1946.  There were a few child prodigy boomer rockers like Little Stevie Wonder, who was born in 1950 and had his first hit in 1963, but these guys are few and far between.  The great majority of the forces who changed rock ‘n roll into rock were born in the unremarked decade: 1936-1946.

Take David Crosby, for instance, born August 14, 1941.  (My gosh!  That makes him 67 years old today!  What a coincidence!).

He was a Santa Barbara kid, scion of film folk, going to school in nearby Montecito where the rich kids live, and in Carpinteria, a normal beach town for kids who get kicked out of Montecito. He made a few cursory attempts at drama at Santa Barbara City College. Then he jumped on the folk music bandwagon and split for the wide world beyond.

By 1963, he was hanging out in LA with Jim McGuinn, Gene Clark, Chris Hillman, and Michael Clarke — the Byrds.  At first, they looked like just another American wannabe British Invasion band, but oh that sound!  That gorgeous, unique, David Crosby master-minded harmony sound and McGuinn’s ringing 12 string Rickenbacker.  Man, you could tell it was The Byrds in one second.

Here’s their 1966 hit, Eight Miles High.  Crosby got the writing credit for it although in truth it was a group production.  After all these years it still stands alone in my mind, a monument, maybe a blind alley.  It’s a remarkable attempt to break out from folk-rock into free jazz – and it actually made the charts (how wild was 1966?).  Actually, I like the song better today than I did back in the day, when my ears heard unformed mishmash.

After David left The Byrds (irreconcilable differences – they wouldn’t record his songs), he got together with some other pals to form Crosby, Stills and Nash and rocketed from stardom to superstardom.

CSNY cut much of their best material at Wally Heider Studios in San Francisco, including the classic Deja Vu.  And Crosby brought in many of San Francisco’s finest for his 1971 solo album If I Could Only Remember My Name – Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann from the Dead; Grace Slick, Paul Kantner, Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady from the Airplane; Gregg Rolie and Michael Shrieve from Santana; David Frieberg from Quicksilver.  Crosby is always strongest as a collaborator, he brings out the good stuff in himself and his band mates.

Here’s one of David’s most famous from that era: Long Time Coming, a semi-acoustic version from the early ’90s.

You probably already know about the tabloid scandals, the millions of dollars up his nose or down his arm, the arrests, jail time, liver transplant, fathering Melissa Etheridge’s kids bla bla bla – who cares? Let’s start saving up to see the kickoff of the 2008 Crosby Nash Tour September 27 at Oakland’s Paramount Theater.  Orchestra seats still available at $125 per.  Hey, bring the family!

Congratulations, David on making your 67th birthday.  See yuh on the road.

Here’s a penny for the old guy.

Photo credits: Patrushka, Up From The Deep, P.S. Zollo


7 thoughts on “Sixties Survivors #3: David Crosby

  1. David reportedly shows up out here sometimes, near the little burg of Patagonia. He’s pals, evidently, with local ranch dweller and former dj/producer/occasional player “Snuff” Garrett. People see this white haired guy wandering around and the answer is always, “That’s Snuff’s pal Dave”.


  2. Alright. I tried to find some rockers who were boomers. I hate it when you’re right. I found a few, though on the cusp. Bob Weir, 1947. Ian Anderson, 1947. Gregory Lenoir Allman, 1947. Former “McCoy” Rick Derringer, 1947. Bruce Springsteen, 1949.

    Declan Patrick MacManus, 1954 (Here we go). Bono, 1960. Jakob Dylan, 1969. Chrissie Hynde, 1951. Johnny Rotten, 1956. Joe Strummer, 1952. Gordon “Sting” Sumner, 1951. Like ’em or hate ’em, they’re boomers who made some noise. But, jeeze, there’s gotta be more.


  3. Personally, I’m just glad Chrissie and Joe Strummer and Johnny Rotten were there to save the day. By the late Seventies, even though I liked ELO and Supertramp – rock was getting far too serious, too overblown. The ‘n’roll’ part had gone missing. Then ‘Brass in Pocket’ hit Top 40 radio and the airwaves were rockin’again. Hurray for the Boomer Rockers, including the Boomertown Rats.


  4. Yeah, there’s more. No diamonds. No Glimmer twins, No Lennon/McCartney. No Brian Wilson. But… here’s a few more to put in the collection basket. No order, no editorial comment… It looks to me, though, that 1947 is the key year and that, in my tweaked mind anyways, blows the 1936-46 theory out the window.

    Robert Cray, 1953. Eddie Van Halen, 1957. Bily Idol, 1954. Joey Ramone, 1951. Geddy Lee, 1953. David Byrne, 1952. Kurt Cobain, 1967. Yoko Ono, 1933. Willie Nelson, 1933. Fats Domino, 1928. Edie Brickell, 1966. Yngwie Johann Malmsteen, 1963. Bill Bruford, 1949. Lena Horne, 1917. Arlo, 1947. Carlos Santana, 1947. Cat (Yusef Islam) Stevens, 1947. John Mayer, 1977. Tom Petty, 1950. Weird Al Yankovic, 1959. Rickie Lee Jones, 1954. Tom Waits, 1949. Bruce Hornsby, 1954. Ozzy Osbourne, 1948. Sinead O’Connor, 1966. George Thorogood, 1952.


  5. Tweaking’s not good for you, cat. Stick to your kitty crunchies. I love RLJ and I like Sinead O’Connor and Tom Waits – but rockers they’re not. Lena Horne, on the other hand…hey, are you tweaked?


  6. I’m looking in your archives for more Sixty Survivors, guess you didn’t like Melanie Safka? Or would you call her a Seventies Survivor?


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