Rolling Stone #216: Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

On Again, Off Again

Los Angeles – The word began to filter out in early May – Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young were back together and secretly working on a new album at Miami’s Criteria Recording Studios. And sure enough, it was true. Steve Stills and Neil Young, finishing a joint LP, had summoned their old friends to give that mythical third CSNY studio album another try.

A month later, it’s as if the attempt had never been made. Stills and Young are back in the final mixdown for their album while Crosby and Nash are wrapping up their as-yet-untitled third LP. According to one source, Nash and Crosby, during a session break, flew to L.A. to catch up on lingering business commitments. When the two called Stills and Young to make plans for their return to CSNY, they were told the project had reverted back to a Stills and Young LP.

“The old magic just wasn’t there,” according to Michael John Bowen, Stills’s manager, who was at the sessions. “It was too identifiably Stills and Young.”

David Crosby confirmed the story. “I was very surprised and very sorry to see the album not happen for us. We’ve always said we’d be right there for Stephen and Neil and we were. I really thought there was room for all of it. But then I’ve always been an optimist.”

“The bottom line is this,” continued Crosby. “We love good music. We were happy recording with the other guys but it’s not happening, so we’re back making good music with our own band [Craig Doerge, keyboards; Danny Kortchmar, guitar; Tim Drummond, bass; and Russ Kunkel, drums]. And we love it.”

Bowen cited poor timing as another reason the reunion – the group’s fourth known attempt – failed. “This year is just too soon for Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young to resurface,” he said. “This summer Steve and Neil will tour and release their album. They need to do that. That’s the next stage in this cycle. Then, with that behind them, circumstances will be just right for CSNY to come back. Next year will be perfect.”

Reached at Criteria last week, Stills was no less than ecstatic over his newly released Illegal Stills LP and the nearly finished Stills/Young album, due out this month. “I love the way things are working out,” he said. “I was in the doldrums for a while, but I’m comin’ back. I wouldn’t call it a comeback, though, ’cause I never went anywhere.”

It will be basically Stills’s band – with Young on guitar – that will tour this summer. “The whole idea came about when Neil showed up for a couple of shows of mine in L.A. and San Francisco. We knew it felt electric and exactly right.”

Young, as far back as last spring, had the idea for a Stills/Young project firmly in mind. “Stills,” he said at the time, “is one guy I always get off with. All that shit about Young and Stills always being at each other’s throats… that’s a bunch of fuckin’ shit. I really want to do an album with him.”

Meanwhile, Crosby and Nash will take to the road this summer as well. “Nash and I have no desire to do the big shows,” said Crosby. “We’ll be doing smaller halls, the choicest places.”

Courtesy of Rolling Stone #216 – Cameron Crowe – July 1, 1976