For years, the monstrously popular quartet of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young (sometimes varying as a trio and duo in assorted combinations) has remained active in charitable causes while at the same time creating the soundtrack for many lives.
Recently I spoke with David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash at a benefit they were doing for Autism Speaks in Los Angeles.
Crosby in particular keyed in on why this was not the first autism event they have done, saying
“We get asked a lot to do things and Graham and I have felt for some time that our best efforts should be made for children.
Autism is a problem that threatens children more than anyone else and so for us, this one is easy.
We’ve been asked to do things since the 60s and while you can’t do them all, we do we can. It used to be just about the Vietnam War we’d get calls for, but now there are hundreds of places where we can put our efforts to help.”
Nash concurred: “At our age, we have to be careful with how many things we commit to. Over the years, being activists and doing things to help the environment and nature have been very important for us. In a way, creating awareness for autism is very much like that because it does involve nature in that all kids are part of nature and deserve to be cared for in as strong a way as possible.”
Of course, throughout all of their touring and recording and generating goodwill, they have touched many places around the globe – including these 10 North American sites that stand out as some of the more interesting geographic locations related to arguably the greatest vocal group of their generation.
Woodstock Hurd and West Shore Roads, outside Bethel, New York
A concrete marker sits at the spot where the stage stood for the original, legendary Woodstock “Music and Art Fair,” three days of peace and love that took place on August 15–17, 1969 at Max Yasgur’s farm. This seminal event was documented both on film and record. Among the performers were The Band, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Crosby, Stills & Nash, the Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, Santana, Sly & The Family Stone, The Who, and Neil Young (Young performed a few songs with Crosby, Stills & Nash – and later joined the group). Today the field remains, and a museum in honor of the festival has also been created.
Altamont Raceway 17001 Midway Road Tracy, California
It was billed as a West Coast Woodstock—a huge free concert in a windswept racetrack headlined by the Rolling Stones. Instead, the gathering became one of the most violent days in the history of rock ’n’ roll. For the final show of their 1969 American tour, the Rolling Stones “hosted” a one-day concert at the Altamont Speedway in Livermore, California. The show took place on December 6, 1969, and was intended as a thank-you gesture to Stones fans.
In addition to the Rolling Stones, the show’s lineup included Santana, Jefferson Airplane, The Flying Burrito Brothers, and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. The Grateful Dead never got to play, though they were scheduled to perform.
3615 Shady Oak Road Studio City, California
From late October into early November, the Rolling Stones also rehearsed here, at guitarist Stephen Stills’ house. The house, a famed rock and roll hangout where Crosby, Stills and Nash first began their own serious rehearsals, also functioned as a pseudo band business office and venue for the Stones to conduct interviews.
7708 Woodrow Wilson Drive Los Angeles, California
Cass Elliot’s house is another one of the several in the Los Angeles area related to the events that brought the three together. Supposedly, it was here that Nash asked Stills and Crosby to repeat their performance of a new song by Stills, You Don’t Have To Cry, with Nash making up a third harmony part on the spot.
2401 Laurel Canyon Boulevard (Northwest corner of Laurel Canyon and Lookout Mountain) Los Angeles
Today it’s a grassy field (after having burnt to the ground in 1981) but in the late 1960s it was the site of Frank Zappa’s famous log cabin. The rustic home, built originally by Hollywood cowboy star Tom Mix, is where Zappa called home in 1968. It was also a veritable revolving door of rock and roll history. Alice Cooper auditioned for Zappa’s record label here and got himself signed, and it’s also where, supposedly, Mama Cass introduced Graham Nash to David Crosby and Stephen Stills.
8217 Lookout Mountain Los Angeles, California
Joni Mitchell moved into this house near Laurel Canyon in 1968, purchasing it with royalties from her very first record. When Graham Nash later moved in here with her, he was inspired here to write the classic ballad of domestication, Our House.
Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young – Deja Vu Cover – Novato, California
The exact address is a mystery, but in this bucolic Northern California town, at a house rented by David Crosby from 1969-70, the band posed in front of a tree in Civil War-era costumes for the cover of the classic album, Déjà Vu. The tree is still there today.
Crosby, Stills and Nash—Crosby, Stills and Nash Cover – North of 809 Palm Avenue West Hollywood, California
The house where famed rock photographer Henry Diltz shot CSN’s 1969 debut album cover is long gone from this site. The album featured Suite: Judy Blue Eyes, Marrakesh Express and Guinnevere among others. Interestingly, after the album cover was shot, it was pointed out that the singers were posed as Nash, Stills and Crosby. When they returned to re-shoot, the house had been demolished, so they settled for the photo they had.
Wally Heider’s Studio – 245 Hyde Street San Francisco, California
Wally Heider was one of the most renowned recording engineers in history and here at the site of his former studio he recorded many artists including the Jefferson Airplane (Volunteers); Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young (Deja Vu); Creedence Clearwater Revival (Green River and other albums); and the Grateful Dead (American Beauty).
Other artists to record here were Moby Grape, James Brown, Paul Simon, Merle Haggard, Journey, the Dead Kennedys, The Pointer Sisters, and Herbie Hancock. The building that housed Wally Heider’s Studio is still a top quality recording studio today called Hyde Street Studios.
Medallion Plaza 6400 East Northwest Highway Dallas, Texas
On April 12, 1982, back when it was a Cardi’s nightclub, this was where David Crosby was caught freebasing cocaine backstage. (The cops arresting Crosby also found he was in possession of a loaded .45 pistol.) He was arrested and eventually did time at a rehab center in New Jersey before skipping out and winding up in the Texas State Penitentiary.