David Crosby, the brash rock musician who evolved from a baby-faced harmony singer with the Byrds to a mustachioed hippie superstar and an ongoing troubadour in Crosby, Stills, Nash & (sometimes) Young, has died at 81, several media outlets reported Thursday.
The New York Times reported, based on a text message from Crosby’s sister in law, that the musician died Wednesday night. Several media outlets reported Crosby’s death citing anonymous sources; The Associated Press was unable to reach Crosby’s representatives and his widow.Crosby underwent a liver transplant in 1994 after decades of drug use and survived diabetes, hepatitis C and heart surgery in his 70s.While he only wrote a handful of widely known songs, the witty and ever opinionated Crosby was on the front lines of the cultural revolution of the ’60s and ’70s — whether triumphing with Stephen Stills, Graham Nash and Neil Young on stage at Woodstock, testifying on behalf of a hirsute generation in his anthem “Almost Cut My Hair” or mourning the assassination of Robert Kennedy in “Long Time Gone.”He was a founder and focus of the Los Angeles rock music community from which such performers as the Eagles and Jackson Browne later emerged. He was a twinkly-eyed hippie patriarch, the inspiration for Dennis Hopper’s long-haired stoner in “Easy Rider.” He advocated for peace, but was an unrepentant loudmouth who practiced personal warfare and acknowledged that many of the musicians he worked with no longer spoke to him.“Crosby was a colorful and unpredictable character, wore a Mandrake the Magician cape, didn’t get along with too many people and had a beautiful voice — an architect of harmony,” Bob Dylan wrote in his 2004 memoir, “Chronicles: Volume One.”Crosby’s drug use left him bloated, broke and alienated. He kicked the addiction in 1985 and 1986 during a year’s prison stretch in Texas on drug and weapons charges. The conviction eventually was overturned.“I’ve always said that I picked up the guitar as a shortcut to sex and after my first joint I was sure that if everyone smoked dope there’d be an end to war,” Crosby said in his 1988 autobiography, “Long Time Gone,” co-written with Carl Gottlieb. “I was right about the sex. I was wrong when it came to drugs.”He lived years longer than even he expected .