David Crosby's big money is a long time gone
In the annals of rock music, few have had as turbulent
a ride as David Crosby.
Crosby saw initial fame with The Byrds, contributing
to hits such as "Eight Miles High" and "Turn, Turn,
Turn." But if the Byrds made him a star, his collaboration
with Graham Nash from The Hollies and Stephen Stills from Buffalo
Springfield set him on the path to something greater. Crosby, Stills
& Nash's self-titled 1969 debut album featured hits such as
"Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" and "Wooden Ships."
Crosby, Stills & Nash ushered in a melodic hybrid of rock and
folk-influenced harmony that set the tone for many musicians of
the era. On their next album, Stills' old band mate Neil Young joined
them and solidified their super-stardom with the album "Deja
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young were among the defining
performers of the Woodstock era. But while many of the rockers of
the day found their easy attitude toward drugs got them into trouble,
Crosby sank deeper than most. As the '70s wore on he fell into heavy
drug use. Heroin, cocaine, speed: You name it, Crosby ingested it.
Crosby's downward spiral continued throughout the '70s, until in
1985 he was imprisoned on drug-related weapons charges.
By the time he emerged from jail a year later, he
had nothing -- no money, no home, no career.
Were it not for the generosity of family and friends,
that might have been the end right there. But friends took him in
while he rebuilt his life, and his old partners -- amazed that he
hadn't died -- put him back to work. Crosby, Stills, & Nash
went back out on the road and gave a man who had lost everything
something to live for. Neil Young had previously told Crosby that
he would record with him again if Crosby ever cleaned up, and Young
honored that commitment, joined with his former band mates for 1988's
"American Dream" album.
While Crosby and friends never again achieved the
heights of superstardom they had in the early '70s, he did find
a steadier course for his life. Crosby has now been clean since
1985 and records and performs steadily. In 1994, he had a liver
transplant, in part because of his past drug abuse. He made headlines
again in 2000 when rock star Melissa Etheridge announced that he
was the biological father by artificial insemination of two children
that Etheridge and her then-partner Julie Cypher were raising.
Bankrate spoke to Crosby about his turbulent ride
through the heaven and hell of showbiz.
Bankrate: You had some disasters
with your business affairs -- what happened?
David Crosby: I had an accountant.
Half of the worst stories in Hollywood start with "I had an
accountant." I had an accountant who said he paid my taxes
and didn't. And the IRS came after me. That accountant wound up
in jail, and I wound up down $1.2 million to the government. They
wanted to take my house and stuff. It was very hard -- it was a
long, tough fight, climbing my way up. But I did it. It took a lot
of work to pay it back.
Bankrate: So the government
doesn't account for a crooked accountant?
David Crosby: Absolutely
not. Their take is, you hired him, it's your fault. That's how they
Bankrate: Let's talk about
the music business from a personal perspective.
David Crosby: I've had it
every which way. I've been tremendously successful, with huge, multi-platinum
albums, and made lots of money back when it was relatively easy
to do that. But that's no longer the same situation at all. The
music business now is in the tank. It's headed for destruction.
All the big record companies are tanked, they are absolutely going
under. They're huge, monolithic companies, with hundreds of employees
who do nothing, and four women in the basement who do all the work.
They have jets, retreats, buildings, splendiferous parties, but
they're completely inefficient, and that's a bad business model.
They were fine when they were selling stuff for $15 dollars a record
and paying us a dollar. But we got smarter and kept taking more,
and they kept spending more to do it, and their expenses have gone
up, and their business model stinks. So they are going to eat it.
Bankrate: Specifically to
you, though, how has it affected you?
David Crosby: It was a very
distressing downhill curve. When Ahmet Ertegun was running Atlantic
Records, we went from being his golden boys -- us, the Stones, and
Aretha, we were pumping that label. When we finally left there,
it was because they no longer had anyone in the building who even
knew who we were, and couldn't have cared less. They wanted Britney
Spears because someone else had Britney Spears, so they wanted one,