David Crosby, music legend, sits in the same vaunted halls as troubadours like Neil Young and Graham Parsons. He started The Byrds, a band that defined two different sounds and periods in California music, and belonged to Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, a supergroup of folk songwriters whose popularity in their prime rivaled that of The Beatles. But David Crosby's substance use was out of control during his creative peak, derailing his career for at least a decade. Given the volume of substances and alcohol Crosby put into his system, it's difficult to understand how he survived two and a half decades of heavy using when the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin burned out so quickly. If these wild David Crosby stories tell you anything, it’s that he knows how to survive.
If you keep up with the comings and goings of Crosby, you know he's ornery, so try to imagine the gruff attitude of David Crosby on crack. The fluffy-haired bard rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, and while drugs tend to chill people out, they turned Davey into a man hellbent on his next score. After decades of illicit substance consumption, Crosby seems to have found peace through music; hopefully, these stories remain buried in the past.
During a recording session for a Graham Nash album that came out in 1980, David Crosby showed signs of serious crack addiction. According to Nash, Crosby was pale and covered in sores when they started to record. When Crosby's pipe for smoking crack fell off his amp and shattered, he stopped a jam to try to repair it.
Following the incident, Nash cut ties with his longtime friend and finished the album on his own.
In 1982, CSN was set to perform at an anti-nuclear rally near San Diego. David Crosby, under the influence of cocaine, opted to drive himself to the show.
Crosby experienced a cocaine seizure, which usually occurs within 90 minutes of freebasing, and drove his car into a fence. Responding police found his cocaine and loaded .45. When they asked Crosby why he felt the need to travel with a loaded weapon, he supposedly replied, "John Lennon."
Crosby received three years probation, although Dallas police would find him in the exact same situation only three weeks later.
While partying in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, David Crosby allegedly fell victim to a group of vigilantes who boarded his yacht looking for drugs, guns, or anything else that could be used against him in a trial. When they found nothing, the gang planted evidence and turned him in to local authorities.
Crosby paid off the authorities with the equivalent of about seven dollars per person and kept the planted evidence.
After attempting to flee to Costa Rica to avoid extradition to the United States and jail time for a drug-related arrest, David Crosby was admitted to a Texas state prison before Christmas in 1985. During his time in prison, Crosby built mattresses, played guitar in a prison band, and answered fan mail, all while detoxing from crack.
In a 2016 interview with Rolling Stone, he pontificated upon the ways prison time can help someone in recovery:
Prison is a very effective tool for getting your attention. 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. Eventually, you wake up from that nightmare you put yourself in and remember who you are.