David Crosby 1941-2023

American music legend David Crosby died at the age of 81 on Jan. 18, 2023. He was also a direct scion of Long Island’s own founding father, William Floyd, the only signer of the Declaration of Independence to have resided in Suffolk County, whose namesake estate in Mastic Beach was annexed to Fire Island National Seashore after the family homestead was gifted to the U.S. Department of Interior in 1965.

Fire Island News had the pleasure of interviewing Crosby in 2016. He agreed to the interview as part of a special series of news articles we conducted to commemorate the centennial of the National Park Service.

While the interview was a great moment for our publication, and Crosby’s relation to Floyd was without dispute, neither Crosby or Fire Island News were sure about the precise details of this lineage. Elizabeth DeMaria, acting cultural resources manager for Fire Island National Seashore, helped us clarify that.

“William Floyd was David Crosby’s fourth great-grandfather,” she explained via a telephone interview.

Floyd was married twice, so what we really wanted to know was who Crosby’s fourth great-grandmother was. DeMaria confirm it was Hannah Jones, Floyd’s first wife, who died tragically in 1781 at the age of 41 while living in exile from the Floyd family home after her husband had signed the Declaration.

The chain of lineage actually follows occupancy of the family estate for multiple generations. William Floyd’s son Nicoll Floyd is Crosby’s third great-grandfather, who wed Phoebe Gelston. Julia Floyd is his second great-grandmother, and she wed Edward Delafield. His great-grandfather was Francis Delafield who wed Katherine Van Rensselaer. His grandmother was Julia Floyd Delafield, who wed Frederick Van Schoonhoven Crosby.

“Julia Floyd Delafield was the last in Crosby’s family line to be born and reside in the estate,” DeMaria explained.

His father, Floyd Delafield Crosby (1899-1985), was an Academy Award-winning cinematographer, involved in the production of more than 100 full-length feature films, including “High Noon.” He married Aliph Van Cortland Whitehead and had sons Ethan and David, both musicians.

David Crosby’s legacy speaks for itself, partaking in some of the greatest bands in a golden age for American music, including the Byrds, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, as well as his own solo career. He is a two-time inductee to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame due to his work with the Byrds and well as Crosby, Stills & Nash.

Crosby is also remembered for his struggles with substance abuse, which reached a low point around the time of his father’s passing in 1985, leading to arrests and jail time. He turned his life around and married Jane Dance in 1987, but years of addition took a toll on his health and he required a much-publicized liver transplant in 1994.

David Crosby experienced a second bloom of musical creativity later in life including an album called “Lighthouse” which was released shortly after his 2016 interview with Fire Island News. He continued to tour and perform until the last year of his life. He died in his sleep on his horse ranch in Santa Ynez, California. While no cause of death was announced by his family, Véronique Sanson, the ex-wife of his former band mate Stephen Stills had said on French television that he died from COVID-19 complications.

David Crosby is survived by his wife Jan, his sons James Raymond and Django Crosby; daughters, Erika Keller Crosby and Donovan Crosby. David Crosby also biologically sired Beckett and Bailey Jean Cypher, the children of musician Melissa Etheridge and her former partner, Julie Cypher. He is predeceased by Becket died at the age of 21.