How Did David Crosby Die? Details Behind the Legend’s 2023 Death

how did david crosby die
Once In A Blue Moon Festival Amsterdamse Bos, Amsterdam. The Netherlands August 25th 2018. Concert of David Crosby. Image from Shutterstock.

American icon David Crosby helped define popular music in the sixties and seventies, leaving a rich legacy across his seven-decade career.

The singer and guitarist, who worked in the rock and folk world, sold over 35 million albums with the Byrds and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

How did David Crosby die? Today we will address the details and circumstances of how the rock and roll legend died.

How Did David Crosby Die?

david crosby death
Washington DC. USA, 15th June, 1992 David Crosby at news conference in Washington DC. Image from Shutterstock.

David Crosby died on January 19, 2023, while battling COVID-19. Graham Nash, his longtime bandmate in the supergroup Crosby, Stills & Nash, stated the cause on the Kyle Meredith With… podcast on April 7.

Nash said that Crosby, who was rehearsing for a show in Los Angeles with a full band, fell sick after three days of rehearsals. This was the second time Crosby, who was 81 at his death, had contracted COVID-19.

“And so he went home and decided that he would take a nap, and he never woke up. But he died in his bed, and that is fantastic,” Nash said.

Additional details were revealed when Stephen Stills’ ex-wife and former bandmate Véronique Sanson stated on French television that Crosby died in his sleep from COVID-19 complications.

Back in January, fans were left in the dark about the exact circumstances of David Crosby’s death. 

This is because his wife Jan Dance, who he married in 1987, initially only announced that the rocker had died after a “long illness” and that he had died while surrounded by Dance and their son Django.

Dance’s statement is at odds with friends’ and colleagues’ descriptions, who said his death was “sudden” and that he was active up until the day of his death. Although perhaps Dance was referring to his other long-running health issues (which are covered below) rather than his COVID-19 diagnosis.

Related: The 21 Best 60s Songs of All Time: Music That Defined a Decade 

What Was David Crosby’s Illness?

David Crosby suffered from ill health for several years and various ailments before his death from COVID-19 complications.

The rock star battled type 2 diabetes and revealed to a concert audience in 2008 that he had recently lost over 55 pounds due to the disease.

He also canceled the final dates of his solo tour in 2014 to undergo cardiac catheterization and an angiogram. Nash later stated that Crosby had seven stents at the time of his death (which are used to hold open weak or narrow arteries).

Another factor in his health troubles is that in 1994 Crosby underwent a liver transplant.

This caused much speculation in the press due to the rock star’s past struggles with alcohol and drug addiction. Examples of such were his arrests for possession of heroin and cocaine (as reported by Rolling Stone) and a drunk driving charge. 

Crosby later revealed that his liver problems were due to hepatitis C, which went undiagnosed for some time. The songwriter said that his doctor told him he was dying at the time. 

He recalled that the doctor said Crosby was down to 20 percent liver function and would die very soon without a transplant. 

Did Phil Collins Pay for David Crosby’s Liver Transplant?

david crosby illness
David Crosby at the 2010 MusiCares Person Of The Year Tribute To Neil Young, Los Angeles Convention Center, Los Angeles, CA. 01-29-10. Image from Shutterstock.

Phil Collins and David Crosby have yet to directly address this, but reading between the lines in a statement made by Crosby suggests that Collins likely funded the liver transplant.

In 2014 The Guardian asked Crosby if Collins had paid for his liver transplant, and his reply was:

“Phil Collins did help me enormously. I’m not going to get into the specifics about how; it’s nobody else’s business but mine and Phil’s. But he did help me tremendously, and he is a dear friend.”

The two stars built a relationship through working together in the late 1980s and early 1990s. 

Crosby sang backing vocals on the Phil Collins hits “Another Day in Paradise” and “That’s Just the Way It Is,” while Collins returned the favor by singing on Crosby’s song “Hero” in 1993.

What Did David Crosby Say Before He Died?

david crosby last words
Once In A Blue Moon Festival Amsterdamse Bos, Amsterdam. The Netherlands August 25th 2018. Concert of David Crosby. Image from Shutterstock.

David Crosby’s last words to his family are not known publicly, but he did speak about heaven in a tweet one day before he died.

In response to a lighthearted Twitter post about whether tattooed people can get into heaven, Crosby said, “I heard the place is overrated….cloudy.”

Graham Nash also shed light on Crosby’s words in the final days before he died.

Nash said that the pair were getting closer towards the end after being estranged for many years following their time together in Crosby, Stills & Nash.

The vocalist and rhythm guitarist said Crosby had left him a voicemail saying he wanted to apologize and talk.

Nash then emailed Crosby back and told him to call the following day, but the call never came, and he was dead soon after. 

The guitarist added that he believed that Crosby knew he was near the end, that his body was failing, and that he reached out to make amends before the end came.

Nash summed up his thoughts on the matter by saying he preferred to remember the good times, of which there were many, rather than the acrimonious years. 

Related: The 30 Best 70s Songs: Classic Rock, Punk, Disco, and Some Serious Wild Cards 

David Crosby’s Children

david crosby children
David Crosby & family at the world premiere of “License to Wed” at the Cinerama Dome, Hollywood. June 26, 2007 Los Angeles, CA Picture: Paul Smith / Featureflash. Image from Shutterstock.

Who did David Crosby have a child with? David Crosby had four children, each with different mothers. 

Crosby had his first son James Raymond with Celia Crawford Ferguson in 1962. Raymond was placed for adoption but later reunited with his father, eventually performing with Crosby extensively on stage and in the studio as a keyboardist and guitarist.

Crosby and his wife, Jan Dance, had their only son Django in 1995, and he has been seen occasionally with his family on the red carpet at premieres.

The rock star has two daughters, Donovan Crosby and Erika Keller Crosby, with former girlfriends Debbie Donovan and Jackie Guthrie, respectively.

Little is known about Crosby’s daughters. In 2019 he addressed his relationship with them, saying that Donovan doesn’t talk to him but that he regularly visits Erika at her home in Florida, where she is raising three children.

Crosby also became the sperm donor for Julie Cypher’s and Melissa Etheridge’s children, Bailey Jean Cypher and Beckett Cypher. The pair were born in 1997 and 1998 respectively.

The rock star explained that he admires Cypher and Etheridge and loves the two children but did not parent them.

Cypher and Etheridge split in 2000, and sadly Beckett died of an opioid overdose in May 2020 at 21.

David Crosby’s Career

David Crosby made his mark on rock history like no one else could. He began his music career in the early 1960s and, in 1964, joined the influential rock group The Byrds.

Crosby initially tried to fill the role of bassist but soon settled in as rhythm guitarist and vocalist. 

The celebrated classic rock band completed several hit recordings during his original four-year lineup run. Furthermore, his songwriting, musicianship, and soaring harmonies helped him make a splash across the broader rock music scene.

The Byrds were noted for blending the influence of British Invasion bands such as the Beatles with folk music, and later in the 1960s, they helped pioneer psychedelic and raga rock.

The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991, where the original five members reunited and performed onstage for the final time.

Crosby was kicked out of The Byrds due to internal tensions and his erratic behavior – by his admission, he was fired because he was an “a-hole.”

Buffalo Springfield split just a year later, freeing up Stephen Stills and Neil Young, eventually leading to the formation of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, where Crosby found even greater success.

Crosby, Stills & Nash’s 1969 debut album peaked at number 6 on the Billboard charts, and the trio’s second album became a number-one hit. After Young joined, the quartet performed at the Woodstock festival in August 1969 alongside many legendary rock bands.

The rock n roll act picked up a Grammy for Best New Artist Of The Year in 1970 and several other nominations.

Working alongside such talented performers, Crosby expanded his chops as a lead singer in CSNY. The group became known for their distinctive vocal harmony approach, with all members being accomplished singers.

The group undertook extensive touring, doing numerous stadium gigs and in the studio, exploring various genres such as rock, folk, country, and pop music.

Crosby’s contributions to Crosby, Stills & Nash gained him his second Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction, as the folk-rock icons were inducted in 1997.

Related: The Best Rock Songs of All Time: The Ultimate Top 40 

David Crosby’s Net Worth

David Crosby's net worth
LOS ANGELES – circa 1991: David Crosby of Crosby, Stills and Nash and his wife Jan leave Spago restaurant. Image from Shutterstock.

David Crosby’s net worth at the time of his death was most commonly estimated to be $10 million.

A large amount of that net worth would have been made from his 35 million album sales, as he wrote many songs during his time in Crosby, Stills & Nash, The Byrds, his solo career, and various other projects.

However, Crosby was quite public about his financial woes during the coronavirus pandemic. In 2020 he told GQ he was concerned that the pandemic could put him in big financial trouble.

He explained that in the 2020s, record labels paid a pittance for record sales and streams, leaving touring as the only viable option for musicians to earn a living wage.

During the interview, he said it was possible that he may lose his home if he was not able to tour for an extended period due to the pandemic.

In 2021 Crosby sold his music catalog to Iconic Artists Group, which record executive Irving Azoff runs. The proceeds from this sale allowed the rocker to pay off his ranch in Santa Ynez, California.

Crosby announced his retirement from touring in 2022, saying that he was too old at 80 and would die soon.

He stated that he intended to focus on creating as much music in his remaining time on the planet. 

However, it seems he got the itch to perform live again fairly soon after the announcement, as he was preparing for a live date in the days leading up to his death.  

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Written by Erik Ritland

Erik Ritland is a songwriter, musician, journalist, and podcaster based in Nashville, Tennessee. He’s released over a dozen albums since 2002, most recently Old Dog Almost Gone (2021), the first-ever multimedia album, and his latest collection of all original material, A Scientific Search (2020). During his 15+ years as a music journalist, Erik has written hundreds of articles for Music in Minnesota, Something Else Reviews, his own blog Rambling On, and more. In addition to continuing his music career, Erik currently runs The Cosmic American, a music journalism website, and is the editor of Music in Minnesota.


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