An enthusiastic history of one of rock music’s most significant supergroups.
Rock journalist Doggett (Electric Shock: From the Gramophone to the iPhone: 125 Years of Pop Music, 2015, etc.) traces his protagonists from their origins through their early success in the Byrds (David Crosby), the Hollies (Graham Nash), and Buffalo Springfield (Stephen Stills and Neil Young). As the author shows, the Los Angeles rock scene of the late 1960s was a meeting place for nearly everyone who came to prominence in folk or rock. Prime among them was Crosby, who strutted around in a cape and whose counterculture credentials included introducing the Beatles to LSD. After one night at a popular music venue, Crosby, Stills, and Nash came together for a stoned singing party that gave birth to a new sound. With the addition of Young and the band’s appearance at Woodstock, the legend was underway as well as the melodrama of fights, breakups, reunions, and excess. Doggett frankly admits that he is a fan of the group, and he traces the band’s career from concert to concert, recording session to recording session. In addition to providing the stories behind the better-known songs, the author spends plenty of time on their lives offstage, including their liaisons with the likes of Joni Mitchell and Judy Collins. Throughout, Doggett does a solid job differentiating among the four members of the group, each an interesting, if not necessarily likable, personality. Young gets most of the blame for the group’s breakups, though with four enormous egos, everyone receives a due share. The author backs it all up with voluminous documentation, including interviews with all the participants and ample quotations from contemporary reviews of almost every record and concert, including the members’ solo projects. The narrative is eminently readable, with few dull passages, even when the protagonists are sulking during one of the band’s numerous fights.
A must for CSNY fans and anyone who remembers the era when it ruled the pop charts.