The Beatles Icon That Rejected Crosby, Stills, & Nash When They Were Looking for a Record Deal

When David Crosby, Stephen Stills, and Graham Nash first heard The Beatles, it was love at first listen. Unfortunately for the folk-rock trio, George Harrison, guitarist and vocalist of The Beatles, didn’t feel the same way. 

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At the very least, the Beatle didn’t feel compelled in 1969 to sign the rising musical group to Apple Records, the British label founded by the Fab Four one year earlier. Considering the tremendous success of Crosby, Stills, & Nash (and, later, Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young), it would appear that all’s well that ends well.

Still, that didn’t do much to soothe the initial sting of rejection after that fateful live audition in London.

David Crosby Would Later Say George Harrison Likely Regretted His Decision

The members of Crosby, Stills, & Nash had enjoyed musical success prior to forming their folk trio in bands like The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, and The Hollies, respectively. After months of preparing to record their debut eponymous LP, the folk-rock trio flew from Los Angeles to London to audition for a spot on Apple Records’ artist roster.

Crosby later tweeted about the experience, clarifying that the trio never cut demos with Apple Records. Rather, Crosby, Stills, & Nash performed a live audition for George Harrison and the label’s A&R chief, Peter Asher. “Apple passed on a number one record there,” the guitarist wrote. “Ahh well…everybody makes mistakes. Bet they regretted it later.” 

Nash had similar sentiments about his group’s audition. In a 2015 interview with The Guardian, the former Hollies member said, “We were rehearsing the first record, and we had our s*** down. To hear “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” in our living room was pretty f***ing impressive. And they turned us down.”

CSN’s Reverence For The Beatles Likely Made The Rejection Even Worse

To have a stranger turn you down is one thing; to have your idol reject you is another altogether. Indeed, such was the case for all three members of Crosby, Stills, & Nash, who, like the rest of the world, were enthralled and inspired by the British rockers, particularly George Harrison. Crosby would later say that before he saw The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show, he wanted to be a folk artist. After seeing the Fab Four, he wanted to be a rock n’ roller.

Crosby would translate this rock n’ roll energy into his new project, The Byrds, which was heavily influenced by The Beatles. “We took our guitar cues from The Beatles,” he explained (via MusicRadar). “I had the Tennessean, the Country Gentleman, and Roger [McGuinn] had the Rickenbacker. My whole attitude was, ‘If it’s good enough for George Harrison, it’s good enough for me.’ I wanted to be like George.” 

The musicians’ deep admiration for The Beatles likely made Apple’s rejection all the more bitter of a pill to swallow. Still, their London visit was not for naught. Not only would Crosby, Stills, & Nash remain friends with the Liverpoolers. But the group also achieved tremendous success without the help of Apple Records, signing with Atlantic Records upon their return to California.

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