Singer-songwriter David Crosby during a performance at the Santa Barbara Bowl in 2014. The popular musician, who lived in the Santa Ynez Valley, died Thursday at age 81.
Singer-songwriter David Crosby during a performance at the Santa Barbara Bowl in 2014. The popular musician, who lived in the Santa Ynez Valley, died Thursday at age 81. Credit: Gary Lambert photo

Folk-rock legend and Santa Ynez Valley resident David Crosby died at age 81 on Thursday, weeks before he was set to help celebrate the anniversary of Santa Barbara’s Lobero Theatre.

A cause of death was not released. 

Crosby co-founded the Byrds, plus Crosby, Stills & Nash, leading him to be twice inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — in 1991 and 1997.

Earlier this month, officials had announced that Crosby would return to the stage at the Lobero Theatre to mark the 150th anniversary of the venue, the oldest continuously operating theater in California, and the fourth oldest performing arts theater in the country.

A statement on the Lobero webpage for the now-cancelled “David Crosby and Friends” performance said they were deeply saddened by the loss.

After reports of Crosby’s death Thursday, a Lobero representative announced the cancellation of the Feb. 22 anniversary celebration. A separate event, involving Jack Johnson, on Feb. 21 will occur.

“He was a true friend to the Lobero and our hearts go out to his family, fans, and loved ones during this difficult time,” the Lobero statement added.

After he was born in Los Angeles, Crosby’s family moved to the Santa Barbara area, where the teen landed in trouble while attending Cate School — he disabled the campus bell system, according to the Los Angeles Times news obituary about the musician. He also attended Santa Barbara City College.

Praised for harmonies, his musical career also became known for discord because of volatile relationships among group members.

As news of his death spread on Thursday, musicians reacted and reflected on Crosby’s impact and the loss.

Musician David Crosby during an appearance at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival in 2017.
Musician David Crosby during an appearance at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival in 2017. Credit: Gary Lambert photo

“He was without question a giant of a musician, and his harmonic sensibilities were nothing short of genius,” Stephen Stills wrote. “The glue that held us together as our vocals soared, like Icarus, towards the sun.

“I am deeply saddened at his passing and shall miss him beyond measure.”

For a time, Crosby’s life also became known for his extreme drug and alcohol abuse, leading to a prison term and a liver transplant.

Yet, even in his 80s, he had continued creating, releasing an album, “For Free,” in mid-2021, followed by a solo live recording — “David Crosby & The Lighthouse Band Live at the Capitol Theatre” — in late 2022.

He also remained active on Twitter, frequently weighing in with his thoughts about politics, music and life.

Among his final tweets, related to a comment on heaven, a post on Wednesday read, “I heard the place is overrated … cloudy.”

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Janene Scully | Noozhawk North County Editor

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at jscully@noozhawk.com.