By Benjamin Leatherman
By Glenn BurnSilver
By Glenn BurnSilver
By Troy Farah
By Roger Calamaio
By Mark Deming
By Glenn BurnSilver
By Brian Palmer
He's Too Heavy, He's No Holly!
Graham Nash was experiencing similar operating difficulties in the Hollies. The group refused to record his "Sleep Song," which, like "Triad," alluded to the fact that grown men and women like to disrobe and sleep together, a definite no-no if you're in the Hollies, a band whose credo in the bedroom was "Stop! Stop! Stop!" They also nixed "Marrakesh Express," probably because they thought it was about smuggling hashish. The pot-smoking, love-beaded Nash had little choice but to flee the lager-lovin' Hollies, who wasted no time adopting matching white suits and recording an album of Dylan covers. Those tasteless, Vegas-styled renditions gave Dylan the idea of ruining his old songs himself, something he's been doing ever since his Live at Budokan album. No doubt behind the closed doors of CS&N, Nash gets blamed for that, too.
Monkee Sí, Monkee No!
Meanwhile, back in the States, Stephen Stills was rejected as a suitable candidate for the Monkees because of his bad teeth and impending baldness (Why didn't they just let him wear a green wool hat like Mike Nesmith?). After Stills recommended his neatly groomed pal Peter Tork for the slot, he formed the highly influential Buffalo Springfield with Neil Young, who stayed long enough to break up the combo by leaving. In their brief time together, they released two group albums and a third set of solo songs masquerading as a group album -- which might actually be their best record. When Dan Fogelberg released his first (gasp!) double album in 1978, he credited Buffalo Springfield as its main inspiration. In addition to that dubious distinction, the Springfield-era Stills was the first rocker to wear a cowboy hat, paving the way for everyone from the Flying Burrito Bros. to Nashville Pussy to Texas Jewboy Kinky Friedman to don Stetsons. Unlike the Byrds and the Hollies, Springfield never reunited. Even when the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, king mixer Young stayed at home, angry that the ceremonies were being televised.
Until One Day When the Limey Met the Fellows . . .
As luck would have it, these three refugees from successful rock groups decide to form the first "supergroup" (unless you constitute the marriage of rockin' Steve and Eydie as the first all-star union). Unfortunately, when they snapped the famed couch potato cover for their debut album, the boys were sitting in reverse order, ensuring that people would mistake Nash for Crosby well into the '70s.
The group named itself Crosby, Stills and Nash partly to demonstrate how each member was indispensable and partly to prevent what happened later to the Byrds -- having their talentless original drummer touring under the defunct group's moniker. In doing so, CS&N paved the way for other short-lived supergroups that, like Souther, Hillman and Furay, were composed mostly of members from bands CS&N escaped from. This concept of the supergroup would extend into other musical genres: country (Parton, Ronstadt and Harris), opera (Pavarotti, Domingo and Carreras), vapid and stupid arena rock (Phantom, Rocker and Slick) and kabuki/TV variety rock (Pink Lady and Jeff).
In order for the group to secure Nash's release from his Epic Records contract with the Hollies, Atlantic Records essentially traded Richie Furay and his new group Poco, who moved on to Epic. Columbia, happy to finally be rid of the pesky Crosby, released him from his Byrds contract free of charge.
When the Egos Fly With the Dove!
The group performs its second show at muddy ol' Woodstock. When Stills admitted to being scared shitless, most people thought it was because of the size of the crowd, but more likely it was because of the late addition of Neil Young to the band at the urging of Atlantic president Ahmet Ertegun. Soon after, critics able to count to four inexplicably begin calling the group the "American Beatles," which did nothing to shrink the quartet of swollen egos. Just how full of themselves they became was apparent the week after they performed at Altamont -- that other 1969 rock festival that left four people dead -- when Crosby made the statement, "If a musician were killed, real dues would have to be paid." The implication that mere mortals with no musical aptitude were expendable made even the peace-and-love crowd angry enough to almost cut his throat.
Stormers on the Rider!
Already a concert promoter's worst nightmare, the group decided to give equal time to its two anonymous sidemen. CSN&Y then became -- drum roll, please -- Crosby, Stills, Nash, Young, Taylor and Reeves! If that wasn't enough, each member insisted on having a different kind of international cuisine backstage. The band's rider also stipulated that each stage CSN&Y played on during its 1970 tour have a Persian carpet for the group to stand on. If the rug wasn't centered on the stage, the band invariably threw a shit fit. This troublesome personality trait led the stage crew at the Fillmore East to dub these prima donnas "the Supremes" for the duration of their engagement. Those shows provided CSN&Y with a shaky double-live album, Four Way Street. To issue this bum-notes-and-all record without any sweetening took a lot of balls -- eight of them, to be precise. It's no surprise that overdubs never happened -- when you have four guys playing guitars at the same time, no one's going to admit it's his 12-string that's outta tune. Maybe it was the rug's fault.