The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young in 1997 because in their words, "they are America's longest running experiment in vocal harmony and social relevance." The three of them were veterans of other 60's groups that were discontented with the directions those groups were taking and had dropped out. Steven Stills was a member of the Buffalo Springfields. David Crosby sang and played rhythm guitar with The Byrds and Graham Nash was the voice behind the high harmonies that helped the pop group The Hollies reach the top of their game. Crosby, Stills and Nash met in Los Angeles in 1968 thanks to introductions provided by Cass Elliot. Neil Young was added as a fourth member after the trio's first record proved to be a big hit.
Their first release in May of 1969 provided the group with two Top 40 Hits due to their marvelous harmonies, the focus on the relevance of the songs they did and key airplay on the new FM radio format. Their early success created the necessity for concert performances which required a more fleshed out instrumental sound. Up to this point the multitalented Stephen Stills had been playing whatever instrument was called for, however this would not have worked while on tour.
Their first choice was Steve Winwood, who declined due to his own newly formed band. Atlantic record head Ahmet Ertegun suggested Neil Young. While they appreciated Neil's talents, there was initial resistance to his addition from Stills and Nash. Stephen Stills time with the Buffalo Springfield hadn't been to his liking, and Neil also was a member, so they had history that needed airing. Nash just didn't like being forced to accept someone who was unknown to him. A few meetings with Neil, some honest negotiation and a clear view of who they were and where they wanted to go dissolved the resistance and Neil along with Greg Reeves on bass joined what then became Crosby, Stills Nash & Young.
The newly restructured group went on tour with their first concert being held at The Auditorium Theater in Chicago. Joni Mitchell was their opening act. Their second appearance was also in August at Max Yasgur's Farm in Bethel, NY. I have to wonder what that felt like. While I was watching the documentary "Woodstock, Now and Then" during an interview Graham Nash stated that "all eyes were watching them because no one knew if they had what it took". The must have had that undefinable "IT" that creates a major star in the music business as they are considered to be a "super group". Oddly, they were predominantly an acoustic group. One tends to associate the phrase "super group" with the loud electric instrumentals of a group like The Who.
Their success added to the volatile nature of their partnership and after their 1971 tour the group broke up and went their separate ways. Whether together or solo, their work carried them all into the top positions on the music charts at the time. They tried again as a group more than one time, but their egos, constant bickering, very strange behavior on the part of Stephen Stills and the stress of David Crosby's two fighting girlfriends took it's toll on their personal relationships. None of this ever interfered with the quality of the music. They might not have been able to stand each other except for short periods of time, but once on stage and performing, they were pure magic.