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Expert: David Crosby’s Talent ‘Essential’ to the Sound

UMass Lowell Music Business Professor Available for Interviews

Alan Williams
Music business expert Alan Williams is available for interviews about David Crosby and a wide range of topics.


Media Contacts: Emily Gowdey-Backus, 978-934-3369, and Nancy Cicco, 978-934-4944 or

David Crosby, who rose to superstardom by piloting two of rock ‘n’ roll’s most durable bands, “was a problem child trying to hold onto childhood wonder” through his immense talent, according to UMass Lowell music business expert Alan Williams.

Crosby died Wednesday after a long illness. His death at 81 marks the latest passing of a musical icon from rock’s formative years, following on the heels of the deaths of guitarist Jeff Beck and singer, songwriter and keyboardist Christine McVie. 

A folk-rock pioneer, guitarist Crosby co-founded the Byrds in the mid-1960s before quickly moving on to create Crosby, Stills & Nash with fellow travelers Stephen Stills and Graham Nash. The trio’s harmonies proved so popular, they added musician Neil Young in 1968, establishing one of the genre’s early supergoups. Though Crosby had a well-documented history of addiction and feuds with his bandmates, he nonetheless will be best remembered for his songwriting and vocal strengths, according to Williams.

“David Crosby had the ego of a leader, but his greatest talent was in blending, often the unheralded middle parts. Not the melody, not the high soaring harmony, but rather the voice you can’t quite pick out, non-descript, yet essential in creating ‘the sound,’” Williams said.

In large part, that “sound” became the soundtrack to the counterculture, as baby boomers plugged into CSNY while the Vietnam War raged on. Subsequent generations of listeners were equally moved. The quartet toured into the 2000s and sold an estimated 20 million records. Crosby was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, first with the Byrds in 1991 and again in 1997 with Crosby, Stills & Nash.

Williams leads UMass Lowell’s music business program, where he serves as a music professor, sharing his talents and knowledge as a songwriter, bandleader, sound engineer and record producer. He is available to discuss Crosby’s impact and legacy.

To arrange an interview with him, contact Emily Gowdey-Backus or Nancy Cicco