Stephen Stills

Active - 1971 - 2019  |   Born - Jan 3, 1945 in Dallas, Texas, United States  |   Genres - Music

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Biography by Nathan Southern

As a charter member of two white-hot acts, Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills & Nash (intermittently rechristened Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young), rocker Stephen Stills was wholly inseparable from the folk-rock boom that swept through the American music industry during the late '60s and early '70s. Stills began life in Dallas, TX, and gravitated to music on a prodigious level. By the age of 15, he began playing professional gigs and touring, then attended college but dropped out to pursue success as a folk-rock musician and moved to Manhattan. Fame indeed arrived, first as a guitar player with the Greenwich Village-based ensemble the Au Go-Go Singers (where he met the man who became one of his longtime collaborators, Ohioan Richie Furay), and then -- following a tour of Canada and relocation to Southern California -- as a member of the short-lived but enormously influential band Buffalo Springfield (Stills, Furay, Jim Messina, Neil Young, Bruce Palmer, and Dewey Martin). The group, whose success peaked when it was selected as the resident house-band at the Whisky-A-Go-Go in Hollywood, only issued three albums from 1966 through 1968, but made musical history in the process. After 1968, Stills broke away from Buffalo and teamed up with former Byrds member David Crosby and former Hollies mainstay Graham Nash to create the harmonizing vocal group Crosby, Stills & Nash, which immediately rocketed to superstardom. Over the years, the members separated and reunited intermittently and erratically, joined on occasion by Young; following an initial period of celebrity and various personal problems of the members (including Crosby's much-publicized drug bouts), they ultimately evolved into one of the most popular touring bands on the revival circuit during the '90s and 2000s.

While this was occurring, Stills attained a great deal of press and popularity as a solo act. His releases, including Stephen Stills (1970), Stephen Stills 2 (1971), Illegal Stills (1976), and Stills Alone (1991), each connected with a massive audience, though 1978's Thoroughfare Gap (a misguided attempt to do a disco album) marked an unfortunate exception. He scored a massive hit with the 1970 single "Love the One You're With," which turned into something of a trademark tune.

Cinematically, Stills made the majority of appearances in concert films, beginning with the legendary 1970 opus Woodstock, and continuing on with such outings as Celebration at Big Sur (1971), No Nukes (1980), and Crosby, Stills & Nash: Long Time Comin' (1990). In 2008, Neil Young (under his pseudonym of Bernard Shakey) helmed a much-publicized documentary on CSNY's 2006 Freedom of Speech tour, affording ample time to the group's anti-Iraq War stance and the war, per se.

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  • Born into a military family, he was raised in such places as Texas and South America, areas where he heard music that later influenced his own.
  • Auditioned for the 1960s television series The Monkees.
  • Was a good friend and jamming partner of Jimi Hendrix, and reportedly was in the running to play bass for Hendrix.
  • Famously met up with future collaborator (and sometime foe) Neil Young in a traffic jam in L.A. in 1966. The two formed Buffalo Springfield.
  • His 1967 classic "For What It's Worth," performed by Buffalo Springfield, made Rolling Stone magazine's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
  • His song "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes," from Crosby, Stills and Nash's 1969 self-titled debut album, was written for then-girlfriend Judy Collins.
  • Rolling Stone also named Stills as among rock's greatest guitar players.
  • Was the first artist inducted twice in the same night into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as a member of both Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills and Nash.
  • Is a sailor and attended Admiral Farragut Academy in St. Petersburg, FL.