The old and most of the young among us will know David Crosby as the American singer-songwriter who rose to fame with The Byrds and later joined forces with Neil Young, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash in various combinations. Throughout his illustrious career, Crosby has been lucky enough to work with other leading folk figures like Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan, who gave the Byrds their first number one hit with ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’.
His most successful and long-lasting act, however, has been with Crosby, Stills and Nash, who have toured on and off throughout the last five decades. The most recent outing of the trio was in 2015, and since then, they have only stuck to isolated solo performances and one-off collaborations.
On the surface, one could derive that Crosby has had an easy road in life with his successful career in music, but in reality, his life has been littered with lesser-known misfortune and regret. For much of his career, Crosby battled addiction problems, mainly with heroin and cocaine. In fact, he once even spent nine months in prison on drug and weapon possession related charges. More widely known, of course, are Crosby’s various feuds with fellow musicians, chiefly with longtime collaborator Neil Young.
Another quieter detail of Crosby’s life is that he has a long lost son whom he gave up for adoption back in 1962. In 1994, Crosby’s doctor told him that he needed an immediate liver transplant as his current one had been damaged beyond repair. While he was preparing for the transplant, Crosby was notified that his long lost son had been searching for him.
Following the successful transplant operation, Crosby finally reunited with his son, James Raymond. As fate would have it, Raymond is a budding musician who had built up a successful career as a keyboardist and composer.
When Raymond was born, his father was just 21 years old, and so he and the mother, whom Crosby declines to publicly identify, immediately put the newborn up for adoption. While waiting for his new liver at the hospital in the mid-1990s, Crosby began thinking of his son. “I was in the hospital dying, and I knew that I had a son out there someplace,” Crosby told The Baltimore Sun. “I had been beating myself up for years about not being there for this kid.”
Fortunately, Raymond was given a supportive childhood and became successful in his career, which has been highlighted by collaborations with Chaka Khan and a role as musical director for a popular Nickelodeon series. From a young age, Raymond was aware that he was adopted but didn’t seek out his birth father until he was in his late 20s. When he finally realised that his father was David Crosby, it came as quite a shock.
After meeting, the pair got on extremely well and naturally had a lot in common. “He was this nice, decent young guy, and we became friends immediately,” Crosby said. Before long, the reunited father and son decided to form a jazz-rock band and called it CPR (Crosby, Pevar and Raymond). By January 1997, CPR were touring and performing together.
In July 2021, Crosby released his solo album, For Free, which was produced and co-written by his son. On his website, Raymond discusses working on the LP. “Lyrically, where I started was this visual of agricultural workers in the Central Valley of California, truck drivers, labourers starting their workday early in the cold of morning … knowing that it would get hot as hell as the day wore on,” Raymond said. “I wanted to speak of their resiliency and spirit and that of so many other working folks across the USA.”
Listen to ‘Rodriguez for a Night’ from the father-son collaborative album below.