Singer/songwriter/guitarist Stephen Stills has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall
of Fame twice, for his tenure in influential '60s country-rock band Buffalo Springfield and
for his work in Crosby, Stills and Nash, the harmonizing trio that have worked together
on and off since 1969.
Stills was born in Dallas, 54 years ago today. He got into music when he was very young
and began making money at it when he was 15. Stills dropped out of college and moved
to New York to play folk guitar. He soon joined the folk group the Au Go Go Singers,
where he met guitarist Richie Furay.
The Au Go Gos toured Canada, where they met Neil Young, who was playing with the
Squires, but Stills soon left the group and moved to Los Angeles. He auditioned for the
Monkees band and TV show but didn't make the final cut. Instead, in 1966 Stills formed
the Herd, with Furay, Young, bassist Bruce Palmer and drummer Dewey Martin. The
band changed its name to Buffalo Springfield.
In 1967, Buffalo Springfield issued their self-titled debut LP, featuring the Stills-written
classic about the Sunset Strip riots, "For What It's Worth." Though the album made them
very popular, the Springfield split in 1968, after releasing the subsequent albums
Buffalo Springfield Again and Last Time Around.
Stills then issued Super Session with guitarist Mike Bloomfield and keyboardist Al
Kooper. But later, a jam session with ex-Byrd David Crosby and former Hollies singer
Graham Nash changed his life.
To capitalize on their striking vocal harmonies, the three formed the supergroup Crosby,
Stills and Nash, which issued their eponymous debut in 1969. Fueled by the hit "Suite:
Judy Blue Eyes," which Stills wrote for onetime girlfriend Judy Collins, the LP was a
smash. Young soon joined the successful trio, and in 1970 the quartet released the hit
LP Deja Vu under the name Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.
After the recording of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's live Four Way Street, Stills
issued a self-titled solo debut LP. Because of its smash single, "Love the One You're
With," Stills became a solo attraction as well. He followed the album with 1971's
Stephen Stills 2. The following year, Stills began playing with yet another band,
Manassas, with former Byrd and Flying Burrito Brother Chris Hillman. Manassas'
eponymous debut and 1973's Down the Road both sold well. With CSN still on a
break, Stills issued 1975's Stills and the next year's Illegal Stills.
In 1976, Stills and Young issued the joint Long May You Run and began a tour,
which was cut short when Young left due to throat problems; Stills toured solo. But
Crosby, Stills and Nash reunited for 1977's CSN, which sold more than four
million copies on the strength of the #7 single "Just A Song Before I Go." While
continuing to record with CSN, Stills made Thoroughfare Gap. CSN's 1982
Daylight Again (mostly Stills-written) spawned the hits "Southern Cross" and
"Wasted on the Way."
Except for an appearance at the 1985 Live Aid concert with Young, CSN was quiet in the
'80s as Crosby battled serious drug problems. In 1984, Stills released Right By
You. Crosby, Stills and Nash re-formed in 1989 with Young for American
Dream. Two years later, Stills came out with Stills Alone. CSN issued After
the Storm in 1994.
Explaining CSN's durability, Stills told the Denver Post, "It's the fact that we can
take off and do other things and keep enough distance where it's not so incestuous that
we drive each other crazy and become totally dependent on just [the group] for any kind
of artistic expression."
Stills currently is working with a blues band. This year, he said CSN will issue a new LP
and go on tour. Stills also is working with Young to compile material for a Springfield
In 1998, Public Enemy used "For What It's Worth" as the basis for the theme to Spike
Lee's film, "He Got Game." Stills sang the chorus, played guitar, and appeared in the
"That was really cool," Stills told the Post. "[Public Enemy] just treated me like a
king. It started out that it was just gonna be a sample, but one thing led to another. ... I
was really happy to be part of that kind of a crossover."
Other birthdays: George Martin (Beatles producer), 73; John Paul Jones (ex-Led
Zeppelin), 53; and Raymond McGinley (Teenage Fanclub), 35.