The surviving boomer icons of the 1960s and ’70s counterculture rarely tend to be as provocative in their later years as they were in their youth—unless you take the example of the handlebar-mustached singer-songwriter David Crosby. The Croz, who died Thursday at the age of 81 following a “long illness,” embodied the rebellious, abrasive, creatively innovative spirit of late-’60s California as well as anyone of his time. As the co-founder of two of the greatest American rock bands—the Byrds, and Crosby, Stills & Nash (& sometimes Young)—Crosby played an indelible role in some of the most influential tunes of the folk-rock era: for the Byrds, songs like “Eight Miles High” and their covers of Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man” and Pete Seeger’s “Turn! Turn! Turn!” (both No. 1 hits), and for CSN(Y), tracks like “Guinnevere,” “Wooden Ships,” and “Almost Cut My Hair.” He also played with several other notable artists of the period, adding his jazzy six-string licks and vocal harmonies to recordings by James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Carole King, and onetime girlfriend Joni Mitchell (whose career took off because of Crosby, and who later broke up with his cheating ass by penning a song about it).
Collaborative and prolific though he was, even up through the 2010s, Crosby always had a habit of pissing off both friends and enemies. He’d always written politically conscious songs, regarding hippies, drugs, and free love, but his complementary screeds made him particularly notorious. Crosby was fired by the Byrds after he espoused JFK assassination conspiracy theories at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival; he railed against the Vietnam War in both lyric and rhetoric; he helped introduce the Beatles to marijuana and protested the plant’s criminalization; he alienated red-state fans with late-career diatribes against Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and Donald Trump. Crosby even bristled against musical partners—like when he deemed Mitchell “10 times the musician and singer” that Bob Dylan was at this peak—and they often responded in kind. The Byrds’ Roger McGuinn called him “insufferable,” Graham Nash claimed Crosby “single-handedly tore the heart out of” their music groups and “treated me like shit,” and Neil Young “had a legitimate beef” with Crosby because, according to Crosby, he had dissed the “Heart of Gold” singer’s girlfriend. If his Woodstock-era pals quieted down somewhat in their later years, Crosby never did—and there was no better example of this than his wild, sometimes baffling, sometimes grating, yet often delightful Twitter habit.
Over at @theDavidCrosby, represented by a profile photo from his younger days of enthusiastic toking, the two-time Rock Hall inductee weighed in on all manner of topics: music, politics, education, acting, prestige TV, pets, climate change, and weed. If he’d originally come to Twitter to promote his (very good!) latter-era output, he eventually became better known for his posting prowess. It probably didn’t hurt that, by his own admission, he was high when he sent some tweets—though not always. Little wonder that the band Pavement, as its memorial for Crosby, shared a tweet where the veteran rocker didn’t seem to recall who Pavement’s frontman was.
In tribute to a man who was, no exaggeration, as incredible a poster as he was a musician, let’s take a memory-lane trek back through some of his greatest hits. It seems appropriate to kick off with some of his thoughts on his peers:
We could definitely tell, Dave. But what did you really think about Ted Nugent?
Seems like the feelings were mutual there. And Nugent’s work wasn’t the only music he abhorred.
I remember wincing upon seeing this tweet, as a certified hip-hop and disco fan. But not to worry, there were some rappers the Croz enjoyed.
… eh, well, probably not the best of the bunch. Still, it was representative of the kind of brutal honesty you’d get from Crosby, especially when it came to the art of joint-rolling.
Devastating as that last one is, he could back up his talk:
And tweets like that couldn’t compare to the impact of his most casual drive-bys.
Crosby was often at his best when taking aim at the targets who deserved everything they had coming to them, like the 45th president.
Still, there were things Crosby actually liked. Including bees.
And weird drawings.
And, well, sharing glitchy image URLs.
Anyway, who were your favorite musicians, Croz?
The man went out in a tweetstorm of glory, posting more than 20 times on his last day on earth, weighing in on everything from the Beatles and Greta Thunberg and love to Reps. Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz. He was such a dedicated tweeter to the end that it only seems fitting that, in his final moments, not even heaven was safe:
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