Posts Tagged ‘Stephen Stills’

The Dick Cavett Show (1968)

The Jefferson Airplane perform “Somebody to Love” with David Crosby as well as the politically charged anthems “Volunteers” and “We Can Be Together.”

Joni Mitchell was scheduled to appear at the August 1969 Woodstock festival in upstate New York, but her agent, David Geffen, cancelled her appearance there, worried she would not be able to make it back in time for a television appearance in New York for The Dick Cavett Show. It appeared at the time that horrendous traffic congestion and bad weather might make it difficult for her to get back to the city, as filming for the late night show occurred on Monday afternoon. This was Joni Mitchell’s national television debut.

The Dick Cavett Show was a very popular, and culturally important TV show at that time. Cavett’s show ran opposite Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show in those days, and he was somewhat more permissive of his guests’ interaction and expression than Carson, and had a following among the young and literati of that day. For his late-night show following the Woodstock gathering, Cavett had lined up a number of guests who were scheduled to appear at the festival and would come to the city for a Monday afternoon taping of the late-night broadcast.

Her manager saw how bad the traffic was he told her to skip the festival. The scenes of the festival and the stories her then boyfriend Graham Nash told her inspired her to write the song “Woodstock”, which she not only recorded but it also became a hit for both Crosby Stills Nash & Young as well as the group Matthews Southern Comfort

As it turned out for the Cavett show, in addition to Joni, some of those who had performed at Woodstock were able to make it back in time for the Monday afternoon taping – including David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Grace Slick, andthe other members of the Jefferson Airplane. On the show, Mitchell sang several songs, including “Chelsea Morning”, “Willy,” and “For Free,” and also an a capella version of “The Fiddle and the Drum.” The Jefferson Airplane performed “We Can Be Together,” Stephen Stills performed his “4 + 20” song, and David Crosby joined Grace Slick in a version of “Somebody to Love.” Cavett’s “Woodstock show,” as it would be called was seen by many young people who had heard about the festival, or read about it in the newspapers, but weren’t able to get there. When Cavett asked David Crosby about what he had seen at Woodstock and if he thought it was a success, Crosby (who had arrived at Woodstock with Nash and Stills by helicopter, getting quite an overview of the scene coming in) replied: “It was incredible. … It looked like an encampment of the Macedonian army on the Greek hills, crossed with the biggest band of Gypsies you ever saw.”

One of the posters for the “Woodstock Music & Art Fair,” this one identifying some of the scheduled acts to appear at the festival during the three-day, August 15-17, 1969 event.

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From the time they came together as a trio at the end of 1968, to the fall of 1973 when they turned in this impromptu set at Winterland, the three voices comprising Crosby, Stills and Nash had all seen their share of changes: they triumphed with their 1969 self-titled debut, Then joined forces with Neil Young for the follow-up Déjà Vu in 1970, which took their show on the road; by the end of that run, they’d weathered the kind of wear and tear on their hearts and souls that could throw any band off course for good. And yet, whether performing songs from those first two albums or the solo albums like David Crosby’s “If Only I Could Remember My Name”, Graham Nash’s “Songs for Beginners”, Crosby and Nash’s heralded duo album, or Stephen Stills‘ solo albums and the works with Manassas.

In the Fall of 1973, Crosby, Stills and Nash were still slightly reeling from a busy period that followed recording in Hawaii with Young and the passing of CSN&Y roadie Bruce Berry (famously eulogized by Young on “Tonight’s the Night”). Stills had been on the road with his band Manassas, and Crosby and Nash were playing their own shows with an electric band. But when Manassas booked a couple of dates at Winterland on October 4th and 7th of 1973, it was reunion time when Crosby and Nash pulled a walk-on and the trio appeared onstage together for the first time since 1970.

Between the banter and tuning up, the three manage to turn in some prime vocal shots, from a version of the Beatles “Blackbird” to a handful of their group’s and solo works. Nash takes the lead on “Southbound Train” and retreats to piano for “Prison Song,” his protest of tough marijuana laws on the poor population. Stills sings Young’s “Human Highway,” which Crosby characterizes as a song by “our skinny friend;” the live version isn’t quite worked out the way we’ve come to know it, but that’s part of the excitement of this off-the-cuff set. “Wooden Ships” is dedicated to Crosby and Stills‘ co-writer, the Jefferson Airplane/Starship’s Paul Kantner, before the evening is crowned with the vocal trio tour de force with a wonderful version of “Helplessly Hoping.”

These Winterland shows foreshadowed a proper reunion on the horizon: a couple of months later, Young would join Nash and Crosby at an appearance at the San Francisco Civic Arena and, the following year, CSN&Y would be on the road again, playing to their largest audiences ever as a throwback to their early days when the vocal giants were just a trio, this Winterland night is a historic footprint on CSN’s trail of rock & roll.

Crosby, Stills & Nash started off their October. 2nd, 1973 concert at San Francisco’s now-defunct Winterland venue as a trio. But, again, mirroring their career trajectory, they were joined by none other than Neil Young halfway through the show, to the crowd’s uproarious delight. The first show of an impromptu two-night stint at Winterland, which hauled double duty as an ice skating rink and music venue in its seven-year lifespan, the October. 2nd show saw the trio reunited on stage for the first time since 1970. It was an unexpected reunion, as Stills’ newly formed band Manassas had booked The Winterland for dates on October. 2md and 7th, but, as the run’s commence, Nash and Crosby piled on stage (only later to be joined by Young).

The three friends spend the show cutting up on stage, exchanging pleasantries with the crowd and serving up their solo hits and band numbers alike, Informal, joking, and pleasingly loose, the three friends seemed to truly enjoy singing together, despite the occasional onstage bristling and ropy moments. Crosby sarcastically refers to “our usual slick Hollywood show,” explaining away the presentation’s unrehearsed nature as “more fun this way for us.” Stills answered his band mate’s quip drolly with, “Anything you say, David, anything you say.”

They opened the show with a pair of songs from Crosby, Stills & Nash’s 1969 debut, “Helplessly Hoping” and “Wooden Ships,” Then they played The Beatles’ “Blackbird” and Stills’ “As I Come Of Age” before Young appears as if out of thin air, joining the band for renditions of his own “Roll Another Number (For the Road)” and “New Mama” as well as a few more CSN hits. Young’s cameo would foreshadow a CSN&Y tour the following year, in which the quartet played to some of their biggest crowds ever.

Again, watch the video of Crosby, Stills & Nash performing “Wooden Ships” Crosby, Stills & Nash – Lee Shore Recorded Live: 10/7/1973 – Winterland – San Francisco, CA

Buffalo Springfield Album Art

Before playing their final show on May 5th, 1968, Buffalo Springfield released three studio albums on ATCO during an intense, two-year creative burst. Those albums – Buffalo Springfield, Buffalo Springfield Again, and Last Time Around have all been newly remastered from the original analog tapes under the auspices of Neil Young for the new boxed set: WHAT’S THAT SOUND? THE COMPLETE ALBUMS COLLECTION.

The set includes stereo mixes of all three albums, plus mono mixes for Buffalo Springfield and Buffalo Springfield Againand all  will be available on June 29th from Rhino Records as a five-CD set. High resolution streaming and downloads will be available through www.neilyoungarchives.com.

On the same date, the albums will also be released for the first time ever on 180-gram vinyl as part of a limited-edition set of 5,000 copies . The 5-LP box features the same mono and stereo mixes as the CD set, presented in sleeves and gatefolds that faithfully re-create the original releases.

Stephen Stills, Neil Young, Richie Furay, Bruce Palmer and Dewey Martin played their first show together as Buffalo Springfield in 1966. The same year, the band recorded and released its self-titled debut, which included the iconic protest song, “For What It’s Worth,” featuring lyrics as poignant now as they were then, in addition to standouts like “Burned,” “Do I Have To Come Right Out And Say It,” and the band’s first single, “Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing.”

The group spent the first half of 1967 making Buffalo Springfield Again, which was the first album to feature songs written by Furay (“A Child’s Claim To Fame.”) Stills and Young both contributed some all-time classics with “Bluebird” and “Rock And Roll Woman” from Stills, and “Mr. Soul” and “Expecting To Fly” from Young.

When Last Time Around came out in July 1968, the band members were in the midst of transitioning to new projects: Stills famously joined David Crosby and Graham Nash in CSN; Young went solo; and Furay started Poco with Jim Messina, who produced Last Time Around and played bass on two of the songs. Highlights abound on the album with Young’s “I Am A Child,” Furay’s “Kind Woman” and Stills’ “Uno Mundo.”

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In 1972, Stephen Stills formed a new band called ‘Manassas’ and on April 12th they released their debut double LP of the same name.
The album debuted on the Top LP’s chart for the week ending April 29th, 1972 and eventually peaked at #4 in June. Stills‘ album shared the Top 10 with an album by David Crosby and Graham Nash (Graham Nash David Crosby) and an album by Neil Young (Harvest), and as you know, all were members of the quartet Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

Manassas marked a critical comeback for Stills, calling it a “sprawling masterpiece” and Rolling Stone saying it was “reassuring to know that Stills has some good music still inside him”.

By 1972, what we call classic rock was pretty much peaking—though nobody at the time knew it. Except maybe Stephen Stills. The band and double-album he piloted and released that year—both named Manassas—now seem pivotal. Manassas brilliantly summed up the remarkable 1960s creative surge that revitalized rock’s roots and encouraged experimentation just when it was at its crest.

The top-flight outfit Stills assembled in late 1971 and named for a bloody two-part Civil War battle (the album’s cover shot was taken on that battlefield) could nimbly navigate damn near every polyglot style rock was evolving– from blues “Jet Set” to bluegrass “Fallen Eagle”, country rock “Don’t Look At My Shadow” to Caribbean beats “Medley”, folk-rock “Johnny’s Garden” to metal “Right Now”. Jamming out complex, textured arrangements in the studio, they successfully translated them to stages in Europe and the US. But Stills always felt that Manassas struggled for recognition because his handlers wanted him back in the gold rush that Crosby Stills and Nash (and sometimes Young) generated.

So it all begn when Hillman and Stills accidentally crossed paths in Cleveland, they both glimpsed opportunity. Stills’ bounteous talents and fierce competitive drive almost ensured he would overshadow nearly any setting he was in, but he was discouraged by his solo ventures. He needed a creative ally he respected, someone who’d push back but not combust or split.

A few weeks later, Stills called Hillman and invited him down to Miami’s famed Criteria Studios, where engineer-producer Tom Dowd had shepherded Derek and the Dominos‘ monumental jam-fuelled Layla sessions the year before. As it happens, the producers for what would become Manassas worked on it too.

The stage was set to replace the sterile studio feel Stills hated with the onstage improvising looseness he loved. He had his co-pilot.

Chris Hillman, who may be rock history’s best-ever second banana after dealing with McGuinn and Parsons were hard-to-beat baptisms of fire was secure enough in his own creativity to deliver. He would co-write two songs for Manassas (Both of Us, It Doesn’t Matter), help Stills wrangle others into shape, and supply his subtle, pure-toned harmonies throughout.

As Stephen Stills explained, “I basically wanted a partner, somebody who had a sense of songs. Chris invented the phrase ‘lyric police,’ and was a tremendous help. But I was still on that real powerful, energetic ‘Let’s go, I know what I’m doing’ kinda thing. Chris realized it was my band, and that was OK for him.”

From the shambling Burritos came two key talents.

Violinist Byron Berline was a bluegrass vet who’d clocked time with stars like Bill Monroe and Dillard and Clark. Fallen Eagle, a breakneck bluegrass protest song against ranchers killing our endangered national symbol, puts his dazzling, keening fiddle and Hillman’s virtuoso mandolin in the forefront.

Al Perkins learned to play Hawaiian steel guitar at nine, mastered the dobro and pedal steel, performed with country and western bands, then shifted gears to tour his native west Texas as a rock guitar slinger. He supports or duels with Stills on all his axes. On Jesus Gave Love Away For Free, his aching steel solos swell and sigh; on Don’t Look at My Shadow, they glide with glee. On “Jet Set,” he plugs into effects to go grungy and deliver slashing, whiplash blues in Duane Allman fashion to counter Stills‘ gurgling wah-wah. He plays both steel and guitar on Song of Love.

Perkins, Stills, and Hillman take their guitar army acoustic for “Johnny’s Garden”, where their loosely braided, ever-shifting lines gently nudge Stills‘ yearning vocal.

The rest of the cast came from Stills‘ solo albums and tours.

Bassist Calvin “Fuzzy” Samuels brought the Caribbean feels Stills craved, as the burbling line on “Song of Love” demonstrates. But he could nail the bottom hard on blues-rockers like “Jet Set.”

Keyboardist Paul Harris, a session vet, could play almost any style; with Hillman’s adept rhythm guitar, his keys became the session’s sonic glue. Latin percussionist Joe Lala co-founded Blues Image (Ride Captain Ride) and sang with gritty, soulful conviction. He vocally challenges Stills on Cuban Bluegrass, and delivers the pulsating Latin rhythms Stills adored throughout.

Drummer Dallas Taylor was Stills’ running buddy—and a wild card. He played on CSN’s first two albums and tours; they fired him because his substance abuse rivaled the Grievous Angel’s. But this bad boy had exactly what Stills wanted on drums: he could float, dance, or slam it home.

What was slated to be Stills’ third solo album had morphed completely. The band’s chemistry clicked almost instantly, and its boundless energy and chops meshed with Stills’ vision and discipline. A few weeks of jamming out arrangements fused the wildly diverse material and sounds into a sum greater than its parts. They came out of it as a fierce, tuned machine.

No wonder Bill Wyman, who co-wrote Love Gangster with Stills and played bass for the track, said he’d leave the Stones to join Manassas. Hillman understood why: “We were always more of a band than people thought. Stills wouldn’t have been the same without us, that’s for sure. Manassas was the best band Stills ever played in.”

The album ends with a final stark jolt. Blues Man finds Stills alone with an acoustic guitar, like the host of a wild party sitting amid the wreckage after it’s over. He channels everything he ever absorbed from his revered blues masters into his gritty, anguished vocal and nimble fingerpicking to sketch a raw, painfully dark elegy for three of his friends. Jimi Hendrix, Al Wilson (Canned Heat), and Duane Allman had all recently died.

On stage, Manassas gained fame for its nearly three-hour shows opening with an opening rock set, followed by Stills playing solo acoustic, Hillman and Perkins playing bluegrass, and the band then returning for country, more rock and an acoustic finish. After touring, Hillman took several weeks away to record a reunion album with the Byrds, his pre-Burritos band.

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A deep rift defined the early relationship of guitar gods Stephen Stills and Neil Young. It complicated their first band, Buffalo Springfield, as well as their subsequent four headed-monster, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. The conflict worked to their great advantage, however, in their fiery instrumental interplay. Their dynamic came to a thrilling head on the classic CSNY live album, 4 Way Street  , released in 1971. While the first disc of the double set focused on acoustic tunes, the second saw the band charge through a sustained electric foray. All the songs in the second half featured glorious solos but the greatest, and longest, could be found in 13 and 14 minute takes on Neil Young’s “Southern Man” and Stills “Carry On”. Throughout each, the guitarists thrust and parry, using their instruments as emotional swords. Stephen Stills would spin a dominant solo over the riff while Young would answer back with sniping licks. Then they’d reverse those roles. At times, the players chime, at others clash, creating a play of synchronicity and tension as compelling as a pas-de-deux.

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Love the One You’re With” is a song by folk rocker Stephen Stills. It was released as the lead single from his debut self-titled studio album in November 1970. The song, inspired by a remark Stills heard from musician Billy PrestonStills then wrote the song after being inspired by the tag line — “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with” which was a frequent remark by the musician ,  Stills asked him for permission to use the line in a song and Preston agreed . It became his biggest hit single in early 1971.  David Crosby and Graham Nash, Stills’ fellow members of Crosby, Stills & Nash, provide background vocals on the song. The song has been covered by a number of artists .

His conventional, blues-informed voice seems slight compared to the more distinct, upper register harmonies demonstrated by the rest of the vocal powerhouse. Despite demonstrating his immense songwriting talents both with Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young and its predecessor Buffalo Springfield, the industrious Stills struggled to shake the inferiority complex saddled on him by others in the ‘70s.

Released via Atlantic Records, Stephen Stills debut solo album boasts a droolworthy list of players helping to bring Stills’ vision to life: Eric Clapton, Rita Coolidge, Mama Cass Elliot, Jimi Hendrix, Booker T. Jones, Ringo Starr. Crosby and Nash also appear and, given their joint contributions, polyamorous hit single “Love The One You’re With” and the empowering Earth anthem “We Are Not Helpless” deserve consideration if not automatic inclusion in the CSN discographical canon. Bookending the album, both are big, bright, and beauteous pop imbued with all the exuberance of this period in music.

Déjà Vu might be the preferred choice of critics, no doubt due to the presence of Neil Young, but CSN, the trio’s glorious debut is arguably a much superior representation of their sound, and certainly a much purer one. And while some have described CSN as the ‘60s first true ‘supergroup,’ the same title could also be applied to Cream, who’d already formed and broken up long before Crosby, Stills and Nash had even made their first recording.

David Crosby, having been kicked out of The Byrds during recording sessions for 1968’s The Notorious Byrd Brothers, loitered around Laurel Canyon, pondering over his next move. It wasn’t until he hooked up with GrahamNash (ex-Hollies) and Stephen Stills that the idea of forming a new band became a real possibility.

Nash remembers: “We were in Joni’s living room – or was it Cass’s kitchen? – and David and Stephen began singing “You Don’t Have To Cry.” I asked them to sing it again then I added my harmony to it. The heavens opened: it was an unbelievable sound and we knew we had to make music together.”

In England they approached Apple, the independent label founded by The Beatles, but were rejected after hearing what they were given. CSN returned to America where, thanks to the enthusiasm of David Geffen and AhmetErtegun, CSN were subsequently offered a contract with Atlantic Records, the same label that would soon sign Led ZeppelinStills dominated the recording of the album. Apart from drums, handled by Dallas Taylor, he played nearly all of the instruments on the album. Nash played acoustic guitar on two tracks and Crosby rhythm guitar on a few. Stills played all the bass, organ, and lead guitar parts, as well as acoustic guitar on his own songs.

Recorded at Wally Heider’s Studio III in Los Angeles in early 1969, and released in May that same year, Crosby, Stills & Nash would go on to eclipse anything by The Byrds, The Hollies, or even BuffaloSpringfield. Also, by employing their surnames in the band’s title, instead of adopting an actual name, such as The Zombies, Jefferson Airplane etc, meant that CSN were already destined to stand out.

Right from opening Acoustic Guitars of “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” (written about Judy Collins) and when those magical three voices blend – you realise you’re in the presence of something very special. Although the song is 7:24 minutes long , Its a marathon-like ode to his failed relationship with singer Judy Collins. Progressive-folk, raga, country-blues, even Spanish lyrics, “Suite” is an opus that takes the listener on a personal and deeply moving journey, and remains the one song that CSN should be best remembered for. Nash’s catchy “Marrakesh Express” might seem a bit twee now, at least to modern ears, yet back in the day, even a title such as that meant it was fully loaded with all manner of connotations. It’s followed by the stunning ethereal beauty of “Guinnevere” sashaying into your living room with a softly plucked Acoustics. Then you get hit with the full harmonious power and beauty of those three voices as a wall of one. When the trio first got together in Joni Mitchell’s house – they noticed the ‘timber’ of the combo.

Stills’ “You Don’t Have To Cry” is the song which started it all, and is a delightful country-blues number complemented by some exquisite three-part harmonies, followed by the trippy “Pre-Road Downs,” written by Nash, and which closed side one of the original record.

Flip the disc, and we begin with the iconic “Wooden Ships,” which would turn up on the Jefferson Airplane album “Volunteers” in November of 1969 (it was a co-write with Paul Kantner) and I’ve always loved both versions – a strange hybrid of Soulful Rock that seemed to belong to California in 1969. CSN’s original take is shorter and amps up the Guitar and Organ . The bass and rhythm section is so warm and sweet but it’s the Stills vocal followed by Crosby and back again that impresses . The lyrics describe a handful of survivors living in a post-apocalyptic world. The song was included in the Woodstock movie, thus helping to propel the group’s popularity ever further. The gentle “Lady Of The Island,” written by Nash, is a delicate love-song devoted to JoniMitchell, while “Helplessly Hoping” picks up where “You Don’t Have To Cry” left off, full of delicious harmonies and subtle acoustic guitar.

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Crosby’s “Long Time Gone” had been floating around David’s head for a while, before nailing the master (a very early demo was included on the Voyage box set). Stills explained the process: “So with a song like “Long TimeGone,” I’d say, ‘Cros, go home.’ David would come back in the morning, and I’d say, ‘So, how do you like your song?’”

Clearly, Stills’ experience working in various studios over the years, meant that he knew exactly what to do when it came to overdubbing his instruments, as evidenced on “49 Bye-Byes,” a tune practically built from the ground up thanks to Stills’ knowledge of recording technology.

On the cover the members are, left to right, Nash, Stills, and Crosby, for no particular reason, the reverse of the order of the album title. The photo was taken by their friend and photographer Henry Diltz before they came up with a name for the group. They found an abandoned house with an old, battered sofa outside, located at 815 Palm Avenue, West Hollywood, across from the Santa Palm car wash that they thought would be a perfect fit for their image. A few days later they decided on the name “Crosby, Stills, and Nash”. To prevent confusion, they went back to the house a day or so later to re-shoot the cover in the correct order, but when they got there they found the house had been reduced to a pile of timber

Dallas Taylor can be seen looking through the window of the door on the rear of the sleeve. In the expanded edition, however, he is absent. The original vinyl LP was released in a gatefold sleeve that depicted the band members in large fur parkas with a sunset in the background on the gatefold (shot in Big Bear, California), as well as the iconic cover art. A long folded page inside displayed the album credits, lyrics, track listing,

The truly dedicated listener will likely want the 2006 HDCD expanded edition, which includes early takes of “TeachYour Children,” “Song With No Words,” “Do For The Others,” a tender folk ballad by Stills, and a cover of Fred Neil’s “Everybody’s Talkin’.” the group continued recording that year and the HDCD disc has four bonus tracks come from those sessions. “Do For The Others” would eventually show on “Stephen Stills” – his debut solo album from late 1970. The second it opens – you can hear why its been included on this Expanded CD Edition – not only is this song gorgeous to listen too – it’s beautifully recorded – essentially a Demo with Stills on Lead Guitar while the other two harmonise. It’s a genuine wow. Second up is another harmony winner in “Song With No Words” where they “dah dah” the melody that would eventually appear on David Crosby’s magnificent “If I Could Only Remember My Name” debut solo album in 1971. Truly beautiful is the only way to describe the Trio doing Fred Neil’s classic “Everybody’s Talkin'” made famous by Nilsson’s cover as used in the movie “Midnight Cowboy”. Crosby describes it in the liner notes as “Stills at his best…” There’s a demo of the “DéjàVu” classic “Teach Your Children” which is nice but nothing as good as the magical trio that preceded it. Fans will know that there are five other ‘outtakes’ from the period on the “Carry On” 4CD Box Set (1991) – one day we might get a Deluxe Edition 2CD set covering the event in its entirety.

While Crosby, Stills & Nash can never betray its hippie, idealistic origins, the record itself provides a timeless window into the lives of three young men whose unique, creative chemistry would inadvertently give rise to a whole new musical genre, one that included Poco, America, and most famously, The Eagles.

Years afterwards, Crosby would go on to sum up that special chemistry: “For whatever reasons, I think you get very few records like that in your life, which you can put on twenty years later and they still hold up. To this day, that first record comes on, and you don’t want to take it off or skip a tune. You just want to let it run.”

  • David Crosby – vocals; guitars on “Guinevere”; rhythm guitar on “Wooden Ships” and “Long Time Gone”
  • Stephen Stills – vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards, percussion all tracks except “Guinevere” and “Lady of the Island”
  • Graham Nash – vocals; rhythm guitar on “Marrakesh Express” and “Pre-Road Downs”; acoustic guitar on “Lady of the Island”
  • Dallas Taylor – drums on “Pre-Road Downs,” “Wooden Ships,” “Long Time Gone,” and “49 Bye-Byes”
  • Jim Gordon – drums on “Marrakesh Express”
  • Cass Elliot – backing vocals on “Pre-Road Downs”

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From the preliminary planning stages of Crosby, Stills & Nash, the musicians had always planned to pursue solo projects in conjunction with working together. Following the monumental success of the debut album in 1969 and its follow-up, “Déjà Vu”, in 1970, brought Neil Young into the fold, each of the band members remained quite active on their own. By 1973, a wealth of solo material had been released and each of these musicians had established themselves as individual songwriters and musicians. Crosby, with help from many of the San Francisco elite, had released his first solo album,  “If Only I Could Remember My Name”. likewise for Graham Nash, who released his first solo album “Songs For Beginners”, and was working on a second album. Crosby and Nash also released an impressive duo album during this time. Stephen Stills and Neil Young were even more prolific, with Stills releasing two impressive solo albums as well as a double album with his own band, Manassas, and Neil Young pumping out songs at an amazing rate, including the most popular album of his career, “Harvest”. By 1973, the clamoring for these four musicians to again work together was at an all-time high, but their well-publicized personality clashes made it seem unlikely that this would happen anytime soon.
That same year, Stills took to the road with an outstanding band, Manassas, which also featured ex-Byrd Chris Hillman and several members of The Flying Burrito Brothers. booked to play two gigs at San Francisco’s Winterland on October 4th and 7th. Surprises were in store both nights, but the October 4th gig turned out to be the most delightful. Following a lengthy set by Stills and Manassas, which featured two highly-charged electric sets and a semi-acoustic set in the middle featuring Flying Burrito Brothers classics, the audience was charged up and cheering for more.
When Stephen Stills returned to the stage with David Crosby and Graham Nash in tow, the audience was ecstatic! The trio hadn’t shared a stage since 1970. Strapping on acoustic guitars, they first delight the audience with two staples from their debut album: “Helplessly Hoping” and “Wooden Ships.” The harmonies are ragged and the delivery unrehearsed, but regardless, just having these musicians playing together again, and more importantly, obviously enjoying it, was a cause for celebration. This remarkable acoustic set continues with the trio performing a lovely take of Paul McCartney’s “Blackbird,” after which Stills switches to piano for “As I Come Of Age,” a number he often performed with CSN&Y on the 1970 tour and recorded for his first solo album.
The personality clashes between Stills and Young were the most publicized of all and had been going on since the Buffalo Springfield days, so when Neil Young walks out to join the other three, the crowd goes nuts. The musical chemistry between Stills and Young had always been undeniable, but many believed they’d never see the two on the same stage again, so this was indeed a monumental moment. Young was just about to release his controversial “Time Fades Away” album, but in typically unexpected style proceeds to play nothing from this album, instead performing three new songs, “Roll Another Number,” “Human Highway,” and “New Mama.” The middle song was rumored to be the title song of a potential third CSN&Y project, while the other two would be destined for “Tonight’s The Night”, an album that wouldn’t see the light of day until June of 1975.
Graham Nash next gets the spotlight, and he too debuts new songs, “And So It Goes” and “Prison Song,” both destined for his second solo album, Wild Tales. Crosby follows with a rare acoustic performance of “Long Time Gone” before they close the set with Stills’ “Change Partners,” the single from his second solo album.
These performances are unique and the chemistry between these musicians was obviously still intact. Following these shows, all four members expressed a strong desire to tour together acoustically. It wouldn’t come to pass, but this was likely the spark that ignited the idea of touring together the following year, which is when they would indeed get back together and perform before the largest audiences of their career.

Just two months after their historic appearance at the Woodstock Festival, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young were scheduled to play their first-ever gigs at Bill Graham’s Fillmore West and Winterland. CSNY was forced to postpone the show, and Janis Joplin and Santana stepped in to replace them, along with the original billing of Blues Image and John Sebastian. The poster, however, had already gone to print.

The posters artists and designer Greg Irons moved to San Francisco in 1967 and roamed around Haight-Ashbury with his sketchbook, creating images he would later use in his posters. As usual, promoter Bill Graham needed a poster in a hurry, and Irons succeeded in producing one overnight. As his talent as a draftsman developed, a distinctive line quality and refined sense of balance set Irons‘ posters apart. His cartoonist inclinations are often evident, and he became one of the seminal figures in underground comics. Greg Irons also found work producing album graphics and book illustration, but it was the art of tattooing that became his passion.

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Crosby Stills Nash & Young star in a VH1 documentary from 2000, The original purpose of the channel was to build upon the success of MTV by playing music video’s but targeting a slightly older demographic than its sister channel, focusing on the lighter, softer side of popular music. More recently, much like MTV, VH1 has been in the area of music-related programming, such as the series “Behind The Music” series as part of the channel’s current focus on popular culture.

By 1972, what we call classic rock was pretty much peaking . Stephen Stills along with the band and double-album he piloted and released that year both named “Manassas” brilliantly summed up the remarkable 1960s creative surge that revitalized rock’s roots and encouraged experimentation just when it was at its crest. Manassas marked a critical comeback for Stills, calling it a “sprawling masterpiece” with Rolling Stone magazine saying it was “reassuring to know that Stills has some good music still inside him  .Who knows? But an era was indeed ending. And nothing Stills has done since approaches the epic scale and artistic heights of Manassas.  The four suites of music correspond to the four sides of the album’s original LP release , The Raven , The Wilderness, Consider, and Rock and Roll is Here To Stay. The songs are thematically grouped: part one (side one on the original vinyl release) is titled “The Raven” and is a composite of rock and Latin sounds that the group would often perform in full live. “The Wilderness” mainly centers on country and bluegrass with Chris Hillman and Al Perkins  talents coming to the forefront , with the track “So Begins the Task” later covered by Stephens Stills old flame Judy Collins . Part three, “Consider” is largely folk and folk-rock. “Johnny’s Garden,” reportedly for the caretaker at Stills English manor house and not for Lennon as is often thought, is a particular highlight. Two other notables from the “Consider” section are “It Doesn’t Matter” (later redone with different lyrics by the song’s uncredited co-writer Rick Roberts on the first “Firefall album and “Move Around “ which features some of the first synthesizer used in a rock context. The closing section, titled “Rock & Roll Is Here to Stay,” is a rock and blues set with one of the landmarks of Manassas short life, the epic “The Treasure.” A sort of Zen-like meditation on love and “oneness,” enlivened by the band’s most inspired recorded playing it evolves into a bluesy groove washed in Stills fierce electric slide playing.

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A lot had changed since that surge began. Rock went from being a marginal sideshow for major record labels to a billion-dollar industry. Freewheeling entrepreneurs with “big ears” yielded to corporate types focused on market share and growing profits. “Supergroups” manufactured by producers and agents who headlined arena shows became the standard of success. The top-flight outfit Stephen Stills assembled in late 1971 and named for a bloody two-part Civil War battle (the album’s cover shot was taken on that battlefield) could nimbly navigate damn near every style rock was evolving– from blues “Jet Set” to bluegrass “Fallen Eagle” , country rock “Don’t Look At My Shadow” to Caribbean beats “Medley”, folk-rock “Johnny’s Garden” . Jamming out complex, textured arrangements in the studio, they successfully translated them to stages in Europe and the US. But Stills always felt that Manassas struggled for recognition because his handlers wanted him back in the huge selling rush that Crosby Stills and Nash (and sometimes Young) had generated.

Whatever the reason, Manassas remains one of rock’s half-forgotten treasures. But it’s possibily the best album and band Stephen Stills ever helmed.

Born in Texas, Stephen Stills was raised in Florida, Costa Rica, and the Panama Canal Zone as his military family rotated through duty stations. He absorbed all sorts of music along the way, and learned to play them on guitar, keyboards, bass, banjo, and assorted percussion instruments. The rootless kid found his mooring in sound. He beat up his family’s furniture until his dad finally got him drums to go with his drumsticks. After a week of college, he quit to be a musician.

His scuffling path through the folk revival introduced him to dozens of players, like Richie Furay and Neil Young, who’d become his creative network. It also put him into play at the onset of rock’s 1960s creative surge. He was in Los Angeles trying to peddle his songs when he turned down a slot with the corporately manufactured Monkees (he recommended Peter Tork instead), and jumped headlong into the exploratory waves with his tempestuous Buffalo Springfield.

The Buffalo Springfield surged into the national Top 40 charts with Stills’s brooding track “For What It’s Worth” . In the studio, on tracks as radically distinct as Kind Woman, Rock and Roll Woman, and Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing , they probed the new ideas firing young musical imaginations from London to California. Live, the band crackled with guitar-hero firepower, when Stills and Young opened up in redoubtable jams.

His songs were innovative, superbly crafted, stylistically diverse “Bluebird” is a stellar example of his fondness for complex structures. His lyrics could be elliptical or nakedly autobiographical; often infused with dark romance his confessional story-telling updated his beloved blues. Onstage, he hurled himself at the microphone, when he wasn’t prancing or dancing; he was so intense, his full-throated vocals seemed to come somehow from his entire body.

Bandmate Richie Furay called him “the heart and soul of Buffalo Springfield.”

The unstable chemistry and battling egos that fired the Springfield’s creative ambitions inevitably blew it apart. But the band had barely disintegrated before Stills was off solidifying his guitar-hero credentials on Super Session, with Al Kooper and Mike Bloomfield. On “Season Of The Witch”, Stills dialed up a distinctive voice on the wah-wah pedal Jimi Hendrix turned him onto, floating sweet nothings and yearnings tinged with acerbity.

Thanks to his network, a series of incidents drew Crosby Stills and Nash together.  Their 1969 debut release met with critical hosannas and gold-record status, and marked the dawn of that industry the supergroup, with high-powered handlers and big-ticket arena tours. Ironically, today it can sound like an almost-solo Stills album, so completely did his songwriting and talents he played nearly all the instruments dominate it.

Graham Nash said, “Stephen had a vision, and David and I let him run with it.” Or maybe he just steamrolled over them. A year after the second album “Deja Vu” , what was now CSN&Y exploded, and all its members then released their solo albums. Stephen Stills went gold, He also scored a big hit “Love The One You’re With”and was the only album ever to feature both Eric Clapton guesting on “Go Back Home” and Jimi Hendrix on Old Times Good Times.

Stills even describes himself as “aggressive,” “obnoxious,” and the like, all meaning he’s a control freak—an auteur, if you like. In those days, he was usually packing an enviable pocketful of new tunes. He could out-sing almost anyone and play one-man band if he wanted. You can see how he’d be a hard guy to face off with about creative issues.

Yet he knew he needed feedback. He wanted to improvise with players whose ideas and chops stood up to his own. Then he could let jamming unleash creative interactions to enrich his ideas. That was how he worked during the Buffalo Springfield’s best days.

A twist of fate gave him his shot. In 1971, he was coasting along on a lackluster but lucrative tour when he happened to cross paths with Chris Hillman. As Hillman recalls, “Stills was playing a concert in Cleveland with the Memphis Horns. I was sitting in the audience, going, ‘Jesus Christ. They’re making 25,000 bucks and they’re shitty. The Burritos are way better than this.’ I went backstage, and that’s when we renewed the friendship.”

Their bond dated back to 1960s LA, when Hillman—among the most catalytic figures in rock history—got Buffalo Springfield the gig as the Whisky A Go Go’s house band. That launched them on the road to stardom.

Besides, Stills knew that Hillman was far more than a catalyst. After a whiz-kid run as a bluegrass mandolinist, he played innovative bass, doubled on guitar, sang lead and harmony, and co-wrote songs with the Byrds. When Roger McGuinn unceremoniously dumped his friend Gram Parsons after “Sweetheart Of The Rodeo” , Hillman left, and the Flying Burrito Brothers were born. Parsons and Hillman penned a few matchless songs that other composers would likely swap body parts for, like “Wheels” and “Sin City” .

But the Grievous Angel was riding hard on the road to ruin; sloppy business dealings, erratic performances, and over-the-top drug use and boozing got him fired from his own group before the album “Burrito Deluxe” was released in early 1970. Hillman tried steering the band, but its personnel kept changing; the near-chaos made the Flying Burritos musically unpredictable and financially disastrous.

So when Hillman and Stills again crossed paths in Cleveland, they both glimpsed opportunity. Stills’ bounteous talents and fierce competitive drive almost ensured he would overshadow nearly any setting he was in, but he was discouraged by his solo ventures. He needed a creative ally he respected, someone who’d push back but not combust or split. Chris Hillman, who may be rock history’s best-ever second in charge dealing with McGuinn and Parsons was secure enough in his own creativity to deliver. He would co-write two songs for the Manassas “Both Of Us” and “It Doesn’t Matter” , help Stills wrangle others into shape, and supply his subtle, pure-toned harmonies throughout.

As Stills explained, “I basically wanted a partner, somebody who had a sense of songs. Chris invented the phrase ‘lyric police,’ and was a tremendous help. But I was still on that real powerful, energetic ‘Let’s go, I know what I’m doing’ kinda thing. Chris realized it was my band, and that was OK for him.”

A few weeks later, Stills called Hillman and invited him down to Miami’s famed Criteria Studios, where engineer-producer Tom Dowd had produced the Derek and the Dominos’ monumental jam-fuelled “Layla” sessions the year before. As it happens, the producers for what would become Manassas worked on it too.

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From the shambling Burritos also came two key talents. Violinist Byron Berline was a bluegrass vet who’d clocked time with stars like Bill Monroe and Dillard and Clark. The Track “Fallen Eagle” , a breakneck bluegrass protest song against ranchers killing Americas endangered national symbol, puts his dazzling, keening fiddle and Hillman’s virtuoso mandolin in the forefront.

Al Perkins learned to play Hawaiian steel guitar at nine, mastered the dobro and pedal steel, performed with country and western bands, then shifted gears to tour his native west Texas as a rock guitar slinger. He supports or duels with Stills on all his axes. On “Jesus Gave Love Away For Free”, his aching steel solos swell and sigh; on “Don’t Look At My Shadow” , they glide with glee. On “Jet Set” he plugs into effects to go grungy and deliver slashing, whiplash blues in Duane Allman fashion to counter Stills’ gurgling wah-wah. He plays both steel and guitar on “Song Of Love”.

Perkins, Stills, and Hillman take their three guitar army acoustic for “Johnnys Garden”, where their loosely braided, ever-shifting lines gently nudge Stills‘ yearning vocal. The rest of the band came from Stills‘ solo albums and tours. Bassist Calvin “Fuzzy” Samuels brought the Caribbean feels Stills craved, as the burbling line on “Song of Love” demonstrates. But he could nail the bottom hard on blues-rockers like “Jet Set”.

Keyboardist Paul Harris,was a session vet, he could play almost any style; with Hillman’s adept rhythm guitar, his keys became the session’s sonic glue. Latin percussionist Joe Lala co-founded Blues Image “Ride Captain Ride” and sang with gritty, soulful conviction. He vocally challenges Stills on the song “Cuban Bluegrass” , and delivers the pulsating Latin rhythms Stills adored .

Drummer Dallas Taylor was Stills’ running buddy—and a wild card. He played on CSN first two albums and tours; they fired him because his substance abuse rivaled the Grievous Angel’s. But this bad boy had exactly what Stills wanted on drums.

What was slated to be Stills‘ third solo album had morphed completely. The band’s chemistry clicked almost instantly, and its boundless energy and chops meshed with Stills‘ vision and discipline. A few weeks of jamming out arrangements fused the wildly diverse material and sounds into a sum greater than its parts. They came out of it as a fierce, tuned machine. No wonder Bill Wyman, who co-wrote “Love Gangster” with Stills and played bass for the track, said he’d leave the Stones to join Manassas. Hillman understood why: “We were always more of a band than people thought. Stills wouldn’t have been the same without us, that’s for sure. Manassas was the best band Stills ever played in. Image result for stephen Stills ManassasThe album ends with a final stark jolt.  “Blues Man” finds Stills alone with an acoustic guitar, He channels everything he ever absorbed from his revered blues masters into his gritty, anguished vocal and nimble fingerpicking to sketch a raw, painfully dark elegy for three of his friends. Jimi Hendrix, Al Wilson (Canned Heat), and Duane Allman had all recently died. They weren’t the only ones: Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison were among the others. Many were wondering if rock’s creative surge had run its course.

Who knows? But an era was indeed ending. And nothing Stills has done since approaches the epic scale and artistic heights of Manassas.