Legendary singer-songwriter David Crosby dies at 81 after ‘long illness’

David Crosby, co-founder of the folk groups The Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash has died. He was 81.

His musical efforts starting in the 60s helped bring folk-rock to the masses.

“It is with great sadness after a long illness, that our beloved David (Croz) Crosby has passed away,” his wife Jan Dance said in a Thursday statement to Variety. A cause of death was not provided.

“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.”

Crosby, born Aug. 14, 1941 and raised in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, Calif., started playing guitar as a teen. His father was Oscar-winning cinematographer Floyd Crosby.

The musician formed The Byrds in the early 1960s with Roger McGuinn, Gene Clark, Chris Hillman and Michael Clarke, recording their takes on classics like “Turn! Turn! Turn!” and “Mr. Tambourine Man,” before joining forces with Stephen Stills of Buffalo Springfield and Graham Nash of the Hollies.

After Crosby was fired with from The Byrds, one of the newly formed Crosby, Stills & Nash’s first live performances was at the legendary Woodstock festival in 1969.

That year, their self-titled debut went multi-platinum and won the Grammy for best new artist.

The band soon added Neil Young to their lineup — becoming Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young — before breaking up and reforming multiple times over the following decades.

Crosby put out the solo album “If I Could Only Remember My Name” to great acclaim in 1971.

His personal life was marked by years of drug and alcohol abuse that led to high-profile arrests and a 1994 liver transplant.

“Prison is a very effective tool for getting your attention,” he told Rolling Stone in 2016. “When I went in, I was a junkie and a freebaser — as far down the drug totem pole as you can go. And I was psychotic.

“But what happens is, it’s no longer a matter of choice: You’re there and you can’t get any drugs,” he continued. “Eventually, you wake up from that nightmare you put yourself in and remember who you are. I don’t regret going to prison a bit, man. Later I wrote a letter to the judge saying, ‘I understand how much the system fails, but I wanted you to know that this time, it worked. Thank you.’”

The star was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame for his work with both The Byrds, in 1991, and Crosby, Stills & Nash, in 1997. His final solo album, “For Free,” was released in 2021.

He is survived by wife Jan Dance, sons Django and James and daughters Erika and Donovan. He also was the biological father of Melissa Etheridge’s children Bailey and Beckett.