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Legendary rock musician David Crosby, who fathered Melissa Etheridge and Julie Cypher’s two children via sperm donation, has died at age 81.
Crosby’s family released this statement, as reported by several major media outlets: “It is with great sadness after a long illness, that our beloved David (Croz) Crosby has passed away. He was lovingly surrounded by his wife and soulmate Jan and son Django. Although he is no longer here with us, his humanity and kind soul will continue to guide and inspire us. His legacy will continue to live on through his legendary music. Peace, love, and harmony to all who knew David and those he touched. We will miss him dearly. At this time, we respectfully and kindly ask for privacy as we grieve and try to deal with our profound loss. Thank you for the love and prayers.”
Crosby was a founding member of two important 1960s bands. From 1964 to 1967, he was part of the Byrds, a folk-rock group that had a huge hit with “Mr. Tambourine Man,” written by Bob Dylan. Other members included Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman. “Crosby’s pure, soaring voice was a key component of the unit’s sound,” Variety notes.
He was fired by the Byrds in 1967, partly due to his political outspokenness, and the next year he formed Crosby, Stills, and Nash with Stephen Stills and Graham Nash. Neil Young later joined the group, making it Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, and the new lineup appeared at Woodstock in 1969. Hits by various iterations of the group, always noted for stunning vocal harmonies, included “Our House,” “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,” “Marrakesh Express,” “Southern Cross,” and “Wasted on the Way.”
In 2000, Rolling Stone revealed that Crosby was the biological father of Etheridge and Cypher’s children. Daughter Bailey was born in 1997 and son Beckett in 1998; Cypher gave birth to both. The couple broke up soon after the article came out, but Etheridge said she had opened up about Crosby’s role because it had become a burden to carry the secret.
“When I went out to promote my last CD, Breakdown, all that anybody wanted to talk about was, ‘Who’s the father?’” she told The Advocate in 2001. “I started feeling very uncomfortable because it was this big, huge secret that had all this power.”
“So much energy went into saying, ‘No, no, no, no,’ she continued. “So Julie and I were doing OK at the time, and we both agreed that if it ever did come out, that it would cause something that we didn't want our children to be subject to that any older in their life. So we were like, ‘Let’s just put this out there while they’re young,’ which is exactly what we did. Then as the months went by, I was like, ‘Oh, f**k, this is coming apart, and that definitely sucks.’ But it was done, and the story of who the father is was a lot bigger than I thought it would be. It was crazy.”
Beckett Cypher died in 2020 at age 21. Etheridge said the cause was opioid addiction.
Crosby had his own experiences with substance abuse, including alcohol, heroin, and cocaine, and he was arrested several times. He credited one of the arrests with helping him overcome his cocaine addiction. He received a liver transplant in 1994.
Crosby grew up in Southern California, the son of Hollywood cinematographer Floyd Crosby. Survivors, according to Variety, include his wife, Jan Dance; their son, Django; and a son, James Raymond, and two daughters, Erika and Donovan, all from previous relationships.
Following the announcement of Crosby's death, Etheridge took to Twitter to remember him.
"He gave me the gift of family," Etheridge wrote. "His music and legacy will inspire many generations to come. A true treasure."
\u201cI am grieving the loss of my friend and Bailey\u2019s biological father, David. He gave me the gift of family. I will forever be grateful to him, Django, and Jan. His music and legacy will inspire many generations to come. A true treasure.\u201d— Melissa Etheridge (@Melissa Etheridge) 1674168659