Last week (January 18), we sadly lost David Crosby.
As a founding member and guitarist for the Byrds, and later Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Crosby left a huge mark on rock with both his lyricism and guitar playing.
Crosby wasn't the chief hitmaker or lead electric guitar player for either group, but his songwriting nevertheless served as the foundation for countless magical guitar moments.
A perfect example is the below video of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young performing Crosby's defiant counterculture anthem, "Almost Cut My Hair," to an appreciative stadium crowd in 1974.
Filmed during the supergroup's infamous 1974 stadium tour, the video features a blazing duel between the group's two chief guitar-slingers – Stephen Stills and Neil Young.
Though the performance sounds great today, at the time, stadium rock – and the equipment that was supposed to support it – was still in its infancy.
“We had good monitors, but Stephen and Neil were punching well over 100 db from their half stacks," Crosby told Rolling Stone in 2014. "Graham and I simply couldn’t do the harmonies when we couldn’t hear ourselves."
“The guitar duels between Stephen and Neil got really loud," added CSNY bass guitar player Tim Drummond in the same piece. "I’d just wander between the amplifiers and do my thing so I could hear myself. I was lucky I made it through that tour without ruining my ears.”
In more ways than one, the tour – recordings of which are featured on the triple-disc 2014 live album CSNY 1974 – was emblematic of its era.
"There was this weird troglodyte notion, and this wasn’t just a CSNY problem, that you’ve got to turn it up to eleven," photographer Joel Bernstein told Rolling Stone in 2014. "That’s not the case at all. You need to trust your PA mixer.
"When the volume did come down they were playing wonderfully. They didn’t need to make it that loud.”
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Jackson is an Associate Editor at GuitarWorld.com and GuitarPlayer.com. He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player. Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder and Unrecorded. Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.