Crosby, Stills, & Nash (at times known as Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young) is a pioneering folk rock/rock supergroup that formed out of the remnants of three 1960s bands: Buffalo Springfield, the Byrds, and the Hollies. The band is primarily known for their three- (and sometimes four-) part vocal harmonies. They have a strong association with the Woodstock Festival, and they are one of the few North American groups that rivaled the Beatles in popularity in the late 1960s and early 1970s. They are commonly referred to by their initials CSN or CSNY.
The group began when the Buffalo Springfield were falling apart. Neil Young failed to show up for their set at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. As a substitute, David Crosby was invited to sit in by Stephen Stills. After Buffalo Springfield broke up and Crosby was dismissed from the Byrds, he and Stills began meeting each other and jamming. When the Hollies ventured to California in 1968 while on tour, Graham Nash was introduced to Crosby by Cass Elliot of the Mamas and the Papas. At a party at either Joni Mitchell's place or John Sebastian's (depending on whose memory you trust), Nash joined Stills and Crosby to add additional harmonies to Stills' "You Don't Have To Cry."
Creatively frustrated with the Hollies, Nash decided to join with Crosby and Stills. After a failed audition with the Beatles' Apple Records, the trio signed with Atlantic. Crosby, Stills & Nash (1969) was an immediate hit with several hit singles and rock radio tracks. Only one outside musician (Dallas Taylor on drums) appeared on the record. Stills contributed lead guitar, bass, and organ, and Crosby played rhythm guitar. Because of this CSN had to audition musicians in order to tour.
Neil Young was added as a full member so that all four could play keyboards during shows. With Young on board, the group went on tour. Their second live performance was at the Woodstock Festival. Their first album with Young, Déjà Vu came out in 1970, and was another hit. In May of that year, Crosby gave Young the Time cover featuring the Kent State massacre which inspired him to write "Ohio," another Top 20 hit for the group.
Shortly afterward, all four released solo albums (Crosby If I Could Only Remember My Name, Stills Stephen Stills, Nash Songs for Beginners, Young After the Goldrush). All had a measure of solo success, especially Young and to a lesser extent Stills. Although they would appear on each others' solo records, there was no attempt at a reunion until 1974 when CSNY went on a North American stadium tour. They attempted to record a new album to be called The Human Highway but tensions ended the sessions.
Crosby and Nash began recording as a duo while Stills and Young resumed their solo careers.
In 1976, Stills and Young jointly recorded Long May You Run as the Stills-Young Band. After their 18 July 1976 show, Young's bus took a different direction. Waiting at their 20 July show, Stills received a telegram: Dear Stephen, funny how things that start spontaneously end that way. Eat a peach. Neil. Young's management claimed he was under doctor's orders to rest and recover from an apparent throat infection. Stills was contractually bound to finish the tour.
Afterward, Stills appeared at a Crosby-Nash concert in Los Angeles. This set the stage for the albums CSN in 1977 and Daylight Again in 1982. Daylight Again was originally recorded as a Stills-Nash record due to Crosby's increasing drug addiction. However, Atlantic Record executives refused to release it until Crosby was added. The trio did tour until 1985 when Crosby was arrested and jailed on drug and weapons charges.
When Crosby was released from jail, Young rejoined for American Dream in 1988 because he had promised to record with them again if Crosby cleaned himself up. Young did refuse to tour to support American Dream, but CSN did regroup for the studio album Live It Up in 1990 and After the Storm in 1994.
In the late 1990s, CSN left Atlantic Records and began recording on their own. Stills invited Young to guest on a few tracks. After he arrived, Young contributed so much that Looking Forward was released as a CSNY album on Young's record label Reprise. The CSNY2K tour (2000) and the CSNY Tour of America (2002) were major money makers.
CSN was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997. Crosby has also been inducted as a member of the Byrds, and Stills is also in as a member of the Buffalo Springfield. Interestingly, Young has been inducted for his solo work and his work in the Buffalo Springfield but has not been inducted with CSN.