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The Byrds speak on

David Crosby



Chris Hillman - 2018

He is perhaps one of the greatest harmony singers of all time - is that he had a jazz background. Those harmonies and vocals are much different than folk. David just has a great voice. 

Chris Hillman - Mojo Magazine Classic 2009

We were on tour with The Byrds in 1965 and David was going on and on about the sitar - about how it used sliding scales, it had no frets, and all that. So I said, 'Listen to this', and I hit the radio until I found a Nashville station, and some steel guitar. David exploded. He said, 'I hate that corny, stupid shit'. And then four years later he's got Jerry Garcia playing pedal steel on Teach Your Children. But that's David: he's the archetypal bad boy.

Chris Hillman - Triste 2003

As far as Crosby - oh, gosh you know I think David's greatest strength in music is his beautiful voice. I don't know: the songs he writes are okay, but they're not really something I can relate to, you know what I'm saying? But he is possessed of the most beautiful voices in music. He's something like Freddie Mercury, you know, in that he had a wonderful voice. Crosby has that, almost, operatic tenor about him. He is the guy that enhances everybody else in their performance.

Roger McGuinn - Vincent Flanders 1969

He (Crosby) was fired. He just wasn't making it, man. He's a great talent, you know, and a nice cat -- I like him you know -- but he was getting a little too big for his britches, you know, trying to rule the machine, you know; getting hard to work with, you know. So it was by mutual consent, you know like the three remaining Byrds got together and decided that it would be better if he wasn't around any more

Roger McGuinn - Ear Candy 1999

E.C.: The Beatles and the Stones would often guest on each others albums, albeit low key. Once the Byrds had become famous, did you get a chance to guest on any sessions for other groups?

Roger: Yes, Crosby can be heard on "Sgt. Pepper."

Chris Hillman - Musicangle 2004

David came from a whole other places with his harmony parts. He obviously listened to the Four Freshmen and things like that, as did I guess Brian Wilson, but David did harmony parts that I wasn't really used to. I was coming from the old Southern gospel, straight third part of harmony, and David was doing these really interesting things. Nobody in The Byrds really shared a common musical background, if you think about it. Everybody came from a different place, musically.

At that point (the end), David's heart wasn't in it. He was hanging out more with the other groups, and the funny thing is that I'm the guy who took him to see the Springfield when they played at the Whiskey. I said, "Come with me and watch this band." And he didn't think they were very good. The other thing that tickles me to this day is that when we would be riding about with the Byrds, he'd be raving about the sitar. I said, "You wanna hear an instrument that has a sliding scale? Here: steel guitar!" and I'd punch a country station and he hated it. Of course, he was playing it on "Teach Your Children." And he did a good job, actually. He wasn't a steel player, but he did a good job on that song.

Chris Hillman - CS&N Biography 1984

David just had this knack for causing trouble. He was like Peck's Bad Boy. He was insecure, like everybody else. But if anything frightened him, he got belligerent.

David was more of a leader in the Byrds than McGuinn was. He always projected real well on stage. He was an extrovert and had a lot of guts - which sometimes meant he could be an arrogant jerk.

Chris Hillman - Ben Fong Torres Book 2005

Just give you an example of what Gene had to go through, the only thing that kept Crosby at bay was Gene's physical size. When Gene left and I started singing, I'll never forget Crosby turning to me, we were doing a vocal session, and saying to me, 'If you're going to sing with us, you have to sing in tune'. David had that thing about him. If anybody threatened him or he perceived it as a threat, he would lash out. And David Crosby was lucky that none of us popped him. He was really asking for it. It was the most different set of people with diverse backgrounds you could find, that was the five of us.