If rock had a yearbook during the early ’80s, David Crosby could have appeared with the designation, ‘Most Likely to Need CPR.’ The once drug-addled singer-songwriter with the bulging belly made the late Jerry Garcia and Keith Richards look healthy by comparison.
“I had a lot of issues,” Crosby says. “I could have died. It’s amazing I’m still here, considering all that’s been wrong with me.”
Crosby, 74, has lived through hepatitis C and diabetes. He has had a liver transplant, not to mention well-known issues with drugs and alcohol.
“I fell into traps that so many of my friends fell into and they didn’t make it out but somehow I’m still here,” Crosby says. “It’s an amazing thing.”
So is the output by his longtime band, Crosby, Stills and Nash, which will perform to a sold-out crowd Monday at the Durham Performing Arts Center. The prolific trio, which formed in 1968, has crafted thoughtful, political rock with deep vocal harmonies for generations.
“We’ve done this for so long, since we love working with each other,” Crosby says. “It’s been very satisfying.”
The gentle “Our House,” the gorgeous tribute to Judy Collins, “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” and the jaunty “Marrakesh Express” are C, S& N classics and part of the pop-rock lexicon. “I think we’ve written and recorded some terrific songs that stand the test of time,” Crosby says.
Part of what makes the band – and their tunes – so special is the distinct characters: Graham Nash is the charming Brit; Stephen Stills is the witty, gifted multi-instrumentalist; and the quirky Crosby is one of the most beloved characters in rock.
“There’s nobody like David,” former Byrds band mate Roger McGuinn says. “It was great being in a band with him. We were so young, but we accomplished a great deal and he stood out.”
Music was everything for Crosby during his early years. Crosby became a father when he was 21, but his son was given up for adoption. “It was the right thing to do,” Crosby says. “At that point in my life, I couldn’t have taken care of a box of tissues, let alone a child.”
Contributing to the theory that Crosby has led a charmed life is the fact that that the son, Jeff Raymond, reunited with Crosby during the 1990s. “It was such a surprise and such a wonderful thing to meet him,” Crosby says. “It was no surprise that he’s a musician.”
Crosby and Raymond, along with guitarist Jeff Pevar, formed the aptly named trio, CPR. “It’s been amazing having the opportunity to play with my son,” Crosby says. “It’s been special. I’ve just been so fortunate to be able to do what I love for so long.”
Fewer of Crosby’s contemporaries are recording new material – most senior rockers are content to reside on the nostalgia trail – but Crosby recently released his fourth solo album, “Croz.”
“I’ve always done things differently,” Crosby says. “I’ve never followed trends. If I wanted to do something, I would do it. The same can be said for Crosby, Stills and Nash. We do what we want to do and we want to keep playing music together. I’m very thankful for that.”