David Crosby may not have played real good for free, as Joni Mitchell once sang. But he did play, and sing, real good, which is one of the reasons his catalog includes myriad moments beyond his own recorded work, as a solo artist or with his Rock & Roll Hall of Fame bands such as the Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash.
He played nice with others, it seems.
Throughout his career, Crosby has been a guest of choice, mostly brought in by musical friends craving his harmonically inventive vocal skills to elevate their tracks. Crosby, who died on Jan. 19, 2023, at the age of 81, cameoed with colleagues both expected — Mitchell, James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Carole King and, of course, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash and Neil Young — and surprising, such as John Mayer, Gary Wright, Pink Floyd‘s David Gilmour and Hootie & the Blowfish. Nash has even been compiling an album that will feature his and Crosby’s cameos with others, starting with Stills’ “Love the One You’re With” and running up to their 1993 “You’ve Got a Friend” guest appearance with King at the Universal Amphitheatre in Los Angeles.
Crosby’s credits as a collaborator – alone or often with Nash — are lengthy and diverse. We cherry-pick those guest appearances to come up with the ones we felt were the most significant in the below list of 28 David Crosby Collaborations.
Joni Mitchell, Song to a Seagull (1968)
Crosby was assigned to produce his girlfriend Mitchell’s debut album. He took her to Sunset Sound Recorders and initially set up microphones around the room as she sat and sang at the grand piano — an experiment that failed spectacularly. But he ultimately served Mitchell and her songs well, keeping the recordings mostly to Mitchell herself, with Stills playing bass on one track. They’d reunite for Mitchell’s Court and Spark in 1974, providing backing vocals for “Down to You” and, with Nash, “Free Man in Paris,” and then again on 1975’s The Hissing of Summer Lawns, joining Nash on the opening track, “In France They Kiss on Main Street.”
Jefferson Airplane, Volunteers (1969)
Crosby is credited with sailboat ambience on Jefferson Airplane’s version of “Wooden Ships,” the track he co-wrote with the band’s Paul Kantner and Stills (who played organ on the album’s “Turn My Life Around”). Crosby, Stills & Nash released their take on the trio’s self-titled debut album the same year. He also helped Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady out on Hot Tuna‘s Burgers in 1972 and appeared on Grace Slick‘s first solo album, Manhole, in 1974.
Stephen Stills, Stephen Stills (1970)
Crosby was part of the vocal chorus for his sometimes bandmate’s self-titled first solo album, joining Rita Coolidge, John Sebastian and Priscilla Jones on the tracks “Love the One You’re With,” “Sit Yourself Down,” “We Are Not Helpless” (all also featuring Nash) and “Go Back Home.”
Paul Kantner and Jefferson Starship, Blows Against the Empire (1970)
Crosby was part of the original Starship crew, singing on “Mau Mau,” “Starship,” “A Child Is Coming” and “Have You Seen the Stars Tonite.” (He earned co-writing credits and also played guitar on the latter two.)
Graham Nash, Songs for Beginners (1971)
Crosby was naturally going to be part of best pal Nash’s first solo album, strapping on the electric guitar for “I Used to Be a King.” He also shows up on its follow-up, Wild Tales, in 1973, and Earth & Sky in 1980.
Neil Young, Harvest (1972)
Young made full use of his CSNY compatriots on his fourth (and most successful) solo album, Harvest, with Crosby providing background vocals for “Are You Ready for the Country” and, with Stills, “Alabama.” Crosby also appeared on two songs for Young’s Time Fades Away live album the following year.
Jackson Browne, Jackson Browne (1972)
The ties were strongly bound throughout the California singer-songwriter community during the early ’70s, and Crosby, along with Nash, was on board for Browne’s self-titled debut, including the signature hit “Doctor My Eyes.” The duo also lent backing vocals to the title track from Browne’s classic The Pretender three years later. Plus, Crosby appeared again on 1989’s World in Motion and 1993’s I’m Alive.
James Taylor, Gorilla (1975)
Crosby and Nash, working as a duo during CSN(Y)’s hiatus, can be found on the leadoff track and hit single “Mexico,” as well as “Lighthouse.” Crosby, with Nash, was back for “Nothing Like a Hundred Miles” from Gorilla‘s follow-up, In the Pocket, in 1976.
Carole King, Thoroughbred (1976)
Crosby and Nash saddled up to provide backing vocals throughout King’s seventh album, and her last produced by Lou Adler. The duo also joined King on her 1994 In Concert album to harmonize on “You’ve Got a Friend.”
Bonnie Raitt, Nick of Time (1989)
Crosby was happy to help out an old pal on her comeback album — a Grammy Award-winner, no less — singing with (who else?) Nash on the Michael Ruff-penned “Cry on My Shoulder.” Crosby would be back again for “Circle Dance” on 1994’s Longing in Their Hearts.
Phil Collins, … But Seriously (1989)
Crosby was part of the all-star assemblage Collins recruited for his fourth solo album, harmonizing on the hit “Another Day in Paradise” and “That’s Just the Way It Is.” Collins returned the favor on Crosby’s Thousand Roads in 1993.
Bob Dylan, Under the Red Sky (1990)
Don Was, who also produced Raitt’s Nick of Time, reached out to Crosby again to provide backing vocals on the album he and his “brother” David Was produced for Dylan at the turn of the decade.
Dan Fogelberg, The Wild Places (1990)
Crosby accepted an invitation to help out fellow troubadour Fogelberg, joining Eagles‘ Timothy B. Schmit for backing vocals on “Son of the Sea” from his 11th album, The Wild Places.
Indigo Girls, Rites of Passage (1992)
Crosby and Browne were tandem on this effort by the Georgia duo, throwing out harmonies on the single “Galileo” and “Let It Be Me.”
Willie Nelson, Across the Borderline (1993)
Crosby was among the troupe of background singers recruited for Nelson’s 40th album, which featured duets with Dylan, Raitt, Paul Simon and Sinead O’Connor. No word if Crosby boarded Nelson’s famous bus at any point, however.
Marc Cohn, The Rainy Season (1993)
Cohn made use of the Crosby-Nash team for his second, post-“Walking in Memphis” album, deploying the duo on the tracks “From the Station” and “She’s Becoming Gold.”
Hootie & the Blowfish, Cracked Rear View (1994)
The biggest thing Crosby may have ever sung on was “Hold My Hand,” the debut single from the South Carolina group’s album, Cracked Rear View. The song was a Top 10 hit, and the album was a 21-times platinum phenomenon that holds as one of the top-selling debuts of all time.
Kenny Loggins, Return to Pooh Corner (1994)
Uncle Croz joined Nash, Amy Grant and others in providing backing vocals for Loggins’ children’s album.
Stevie Nicks, Street Angel (1994)
Nicks tapped Crosby to sing backup on the title track of her fifth solo album, which also featured contributions by Dylan and Eagles co-founder Bernie Leadon, plus members of Tom Petty‘s Heartbreakers and Bruce Springsteen‘s E Street Band.
David Gilmour, On an Island (2006) and Rattle That Lock (2015)
Crosby, along with Nash, two-timed with the Pink Floyd guitarist on his most recent two solo albums. They’re featured on the title track of On an Island and on “A Boat Lies Waiting” from its follow-up. “They have wonderful voices,” Gilmour told this writer while promoting Rattle That Lock. “Those songs really called for those kind of harmonies, and I was honored they would do it.”
Don Felder, Road to Forever (2012)
The Eagles guitarist swung for the fences on Road to Forever, his first solo album in 29 years, including getting Crosby, along with Stills and Nash, to sing on the set’s opening track, “Fall From the Grace of Love.”
John Mayer, Born and Raised (2012)
Don Was reached out once again to bring the Crosby-Nash harmonies into one of his projects, this time the title track for Mayer’s fifth studio effort.
Shawn Colvin, Uncovered (2015)
Crosby sings on “Baker Street,” the Gerry Rafferty classic that Colvin included on her Uncovered collection of cover songs.
Chris Hillman, Bidin’ My Time (2017)
Bygones were bygones as Crosby’s fellow Byrds bandmate welcomed him back for his first solo album in 12 years.
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Reunions (2020)
Isbell and company brought Crosby in as a backing singer for the Americana group’s fourth album, and Isbell’s seventh overall. (Crosby sang backing vocals on “What’ve I Done to Help” and “Only Children.”)
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