By Mike Bedigan and Ellie Iorizzo, PA Entertainment
Stephen Stills and Graham Nash have led tributes to US musician David Crosby, who was described as the “glue that held us together as our vocals soared”.
The trio formed the influential rock band Crosby, Stills and Nash – a US supergroup that would later feature Neil Young – in 1968.
Crosby died at the age of 81 following a “long illness”, his wife Jan Dance confirmed in a statement to US outlet Variety.
The singer-songwriter rose to fame in LA-based folk-rock group The Byrds, who he joined in 1964 alongside Roger McGuinn, Gene Clark, Chris Hillman and Michael Clarke.
He collaborated on chart-topping hits including a cover of Bob Dylan’s Mr Tambourine Man, which leapt to number one in the US singles chart, and Turn! Turn! Turn!.
Shortly after leaving The Byrds in 1967, following a tumultuous tenure, he teamed up with Stills and Nash, to form their eponymous group.
“David and I butted heads a lot over time, but they were mostly glancing blows, yet still left us numb skulls. I was happy to be at peace with him,” wrote Stills, in a statement shared with the PA news agency.
“He was without question a giant of a musician, and his harmonic sensibilities were nothing short of genius. The glue that held us together as our vocals soared, like Icarus, towards the sun.
“I am deeply saddened at his passing and shall miss him beyond measure.”
Sharing a picture of Crosby’s engraved guitar case on Instagram, Nash, founding member of The Hollies band, wrote: “It is with a deep and profound sadness that I learned that my friend David Crosby has passed.
“I know people tend to focus on how volatile our relationship has been at times, but what has always mattered to David and me more than anything was the pure joy of the music we created together, the sound we discovered with one another, and the deep friendship we shared over all these many long years. David was fearless in life and in music.
“He leaves behind a tremendous void as far as sheer personality and talent in this world.
“He spoke his mind, his heart, and his passion through his beautiful music and leaves an incredible legacy. These are the things that matter most.”
The 80-year-old added that his heart is with his wife, son and “all of the people he has touched in this world”.
During his time in the band Crosby wrote Guinnevere, Almost Cut My Hair, Long Time Gone, Delta and Deja Vu – however constant clashing led the band to topple in the 1970s.
Over the years, the band sporadically re-grouped, including when Crosby and Nash recorded and toured regularly.
Crosby was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice for his role in both The Byrds and Crosby, Stills and Nash.
In a statement to US outlet Variety, his wife Jan wrote: “It is with great sadness after a long illness, that our beloved David (Croz) Crosby has passed away. He was lovingly surrounded by his wife and soulmate Jan and son Django.
“Although he is no longer here with us, his humanity and kind soul will continue to guide and inspire us. His legacy will continue to live on through his legendary music.
“Peace, love, and harmony to all who knew David and those he touched. We will miss him dearly. At this time, we respectfully and kindly ask for privacy as we grieve and try to deal with our profound loss. Thank you for the love and prayers.”
In a post on Instagram, former The Byrds bassist Hillman wrote that his “friend” was his “mentor” and “big brother”, whose “beautiful voice” brought “joy”.
He added: “The many miles we travelled together will always hold a special place in my heart.
“Singing with David was a blessing beyond words.
“I pray God grants him peace, and peace to his wife Jan and his son Django.”
Born in 1941, Crosby was the child of Oscar-winning cinematographer Floyd Crosby, and gravitated to acting and music at an early age.
Crosby joined forces with Becca Stevens, Michelle Willis and Michael League – known as The Lighthouse Band – in 2016 before their 2018 tour in support of Crosby’s seventh solo album Here If You Listen.
It was a year later that his documentary David Crosby: Remember My Name produced by Cameron Crowe in which he speaks about his own mortality was released.