On This Day in 1969: Crosby, Stills & Nash Released Their Genre-Defining Self-Titled Debut Album

Folk-rock supergroup Crosby, Stills & Nash released their self-titled debut album 55 years ago, on May 29, 1969. The 10-track collection features a bevy of songs that have become staples on classic-rock radio, including “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,” “Marrakesh Express,” “Guinnevere,” “Wooden Ships,” “Helplessly Hoping,” and “Long Time Gone.”

Videos by American Songwriter

In many ways, the album helped define the “California sound.” The songs blended folk, country and rock influences and featured poetic lyrics about relationships and then-current social and political issues.

The band featured three musicians who had been members of other well-known groups—David Crosby of The Byrds, Stephen Stills with Buffalo Springfield, and Graham Nash with The Hollies.

[Buy Graham Nash Concert Tickets]

Crosby had been fired from The Byrds over conflicts he’d had with bandmates Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman. Stills was available because Buffalo Springfield had broken up. Lastly, Nash had been unhappy with The Hollies’ musical direction and was interested in moving away from the British Invasion group’s pop-rock sound.

The Formation of CSN

In 1968, Crosby and Stills began having impromptu jam sessions. Nash, who had gotten to know Crosby when The Byrds had toured England in 1966, reconnected with him when The Hollies temporarily relocated to California in 1968. He also became acquainted with Stills at this time.

One night, during a gathering at the home of either Mama Cass Elliot or Nash’s then-girlfriend Joni Mitchell (stories differ), Graham invited Stills and Crosby to sing one of Stills’ new songs, “You Don’t Have to Cry.” After Stills and Crosby went through the tune twice, Nash joined in on a third performance. According to Nash, the trio immediately realized that their voices created a unique harmonic blend, and Crosby, Stills & Nash was born then and there.

[RELATED: Graham Nash Surprises Audience at New York City Tribute to Crosby, Stills & Nash, Remembers Late Bandmate David Crosby]

Nash quit The Hollies in December 1968, and in early ’69, Crosby, Stills & Nash went to London to audition for The Beatles’ Apple Records label. The trio were turned down by Apple, but were soon signed to Atlantic Records.

Details About the Album

Crosby, Stills & Nash was recorded in February and March of ’69, and was self-produced by the band. All three members made significant songwriting contributions to the album. “Wooden Ships” was co-written by Crosby, Stills, and the Jefferson Airplane’s Paul Kantner.

Stills was the dominant member of the trio in the studio, contributing lead guitar, bass, keyboards, and percussion to most tracks. Dallas Taylor played drums on four tracks, while lauded session drummer Jim Gordon is featured on “Marrakesh Express.”

Elliot contributed backing vocals to the song “Pre-Road Downs.”

Crosby, Stills & Nash’s Chart Success

Besides being extremely influential, Crosby, Stills & Nash was a commercial success, reaching No. 6 on the Billboard 200. It yielded two hit singles, “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” and “Marrakesh Express,” which peaked, respectively, at No. 21 and No. 28 on the Billboard Hot 100.

CSN Becomes CSNY

By the time that the group played the Woodstock festival in August of 1969, the trio had become a quartet. As Crosby, Stills & Nash prepared to launch their first tour, they realized they could use another musician to help augment the band live. Stills’ former Buffalo Springfield bandmate Neil Young was invited to join the group, marking the creation of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

Accolades for the Crosby, Stills & Nash Album

Crosby, Stills & Nash were honored with the Best New Artist award at the 1970 Grammys. The album has been certified four-times platinum for sales of more than 4 million in the U.S. Crosby, Stills & Nash was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999. In 2021, it was ranked No. 161 on Rolling Stone magazine list of “The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.”

Crosby, Stills & Nash Track List:

Side One

  1. “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes”
  2. “Marrakesh Express”
  3. “Guinnevere”
  4. “You Don’t Have to Cry”
  5. “Pre-Road Downs”

Side Two

  1. “Wooden Ships”
  2. “Lady of the Island”
  3. “Helplessly Hoping”
  4. “Long Time Gone”
  5. “49 Bye-Byes”

When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Leave a Reply

Willie Nelson

4 Essential Willie Nelson Deep Cuts Every True Fan of the Red-Headed Stranger Should Know

Jelly Roll attends the 59th Academy of Country Music Awards at Omni Frisco Hotel at The Star on May 16, 2024 in Frisco, Texas.

Jelly Roll Gets Candid On When He’ll Know It’s Time for Him To Retire