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Stephen Stills was born a poor black child, and, at age seven, he was shipped off to boot camp for the Panamanian Army. Before long, he rose to the rank of Colonel. Smelling revolution in the air, he fled to Louisiana, where he learned to steal chickens and shoot dice, and affected a fake Southern accent.
One morning, while waking up in a dumpster, he discovered a cheap guitar under a pile of half-burned Beatles records. He immediately tracked down blues legend Silky Snakebite, and shined his shoes every day for a month in exchange for guitar lessons. He took well to the blues, but, after seeing the Kingston Trio getting comped for free drinks in a local bar, he headed for New York City, and a possible career in mind-numbing, hokey folk singing.
Once settled in the Big Apple, Stephen got a job at the famed folk club The Bitter Den, handing Bob Dylan his harmonica holder when he went on stage. Unable to cope with irritating New York accents, Stills split for L.A., longing for that Beatles rip-off sound newly spun by California hucksters The Byrds.
Along the way, Stills made a side trip to Canada, where he witnessed a performing Sasquatch named Neil Young. Awed by his ability to sing country music while howling feedback rang from his out-of-tune guitar, Stills advised his new friend to steal his band's equipment, trade it for a hearse full of groupies, and join him in L.A. To hedge his bet, Stills wrote to fellow folk singer Richie Furay, telling him he'd won the lottery, and to come fast before he spent all the money.
Crosby Steals the Cash
While pan-handling one day on the Sunset Strip, Stills and Furay spotted a hearse with Canadian plates running over a nun, and managed to catch up in time to recognize Neil Young behind the wheel. After a ceremonial smoking of some shitty Mexican weed, they named themselves the Buffalo Springfield, in honor of the only American cities that didn't have bench warrants out for them.
Needing a gig, they went down to a Hollywood club called the Whiskey A Go-Go, and told the house band that Michelle Phillips was in the parking lot giving free blow jobs. Buffalo Springfield quickly took the vacant stage, and the legend began. Stills soon wrote his first hit, For What This Record Contract Is Worth, and the band spent the next two years arguing who was the best Beatle, and fighting over a fringe jacket once slept in by Buffy St. Marie. The band gradually disintegrated, and the final straw came when Stills refused to record Neil Young's song Down By My Liver. Young gained revenge when he recorded a song for Stills called The Loser on his first solo album, I'm Neil Young, Dammit.
Meanwhile, Stills had fallen under the spell of folksinger chick Judy Rollins. He wanted to move in with Judy and her young son Henry, but was rebuffed for not being one of The Monkees. Stills retreated to Charlie Manson Canyon, where he lived in David Crosby's tool shed, and worked on his opus, Suite: Judy Really Huge Blue Eyes As Big As Quarters. When Crosby traded his girlfriend Joni Mitchell to Hollies' singer Graham Nash in exchange for joining their group, they named themselves after their lawyers, and bought cool ponchos.
After The Alimony Goldrush
After topping the charts with their debut album, the band decided that there wasn't enough dope between the three of them, and Neil Young was asked to join. They were impressed by his new hit Cinnamon Toast Girl, and loved his easy-going frown. Their first big gig was at Woodstock, but it was marred by members of the Grateful Dead playfully unplugging their amps and yelling, "hey, now", and threatened by a relentless mud-storm, and they were partially drowned out by Army helicopters dropping recruitment pamphlets on the crowd. Stills and Crosby appeared on the Dick Cavett show the next day, but were kicked out of the studio for tracking mud on the carpet. CSN&Y embarked on their first tour, but alienated fans with their practice of insisting that groupies take a number.
The group set out to record their next album, and found it difficult to work, since only one member of the group was allowed in the studio at a time. After 5,387 overdubs, and a steady diet of Mountain Dew and diet pills, the album was completed, and sold very well, but failed to crack the #1 spot, which was held down by The Monkees. For this, Crosby fired Stills, who fired Nash, who fired Young, who fired Crosby, and the band almost broke up.
Undaunted, Stills went to work on his first solo album, backed by Up With People. Jimi Hendrix played on a few tracks, but his solos were erased in favor of Stills' xylophone playing. The album yielded a hit single, Be The One You're With. He retreated to Colorado, where he dug in to endlessly play the same blues lick on the banjo, and plot his next move.
The Lost-Youth Greed Tour
The early 70's saw Stills touring county fairs, bridge openings and mafia weddings with a band of illegal immigrants called Manassas. They were named after a Civil War battlefield where a crazed Southern general with a Napoleonic complex got his ass handed to him. When not sleeping in Ringo Starr's backyard, they toured in a 100-ft. long Mercedes stretch limo pulling a horse trailer full of hookers. Tiring of opening for puppet shows and Elvis impersonators, Stills reformed Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and 1974 saw the advent of stadium tours. They usually performed during the 7th inning stretch of baseball games, but refused to play if Joni Mitchell wasn't allowed to do the Star Spangled Banner on the dulcimer. Stills wisely invested the money he made in eight-track tape technology and a drive-through gumbo chain, and deposited the rest in the Bank of Peru.
After Crosby and Nash departed from the group to do a Captain and Tennille-inspired solo tour, Stills and Young decided to form their own duo. Stills had to promise to Young not to drink/snort/smoke/fight/cuss/complain throughout the tour, and it lasted all of three shows before Young ditched Stills by the side of the road after stopping and asking him to check and see if his brake-lights were working. Stills took up a new career in go-cart racing, and occasionally performs at David Geffen's birthday parties.
In 1997, Stephen Stills was elected to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame for both Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills and Nash, the only artist ever to be elected twice in the same night. They narrowly won out over the Strawberry Alarm Clock and Grand Funk Railroad.
- For What This Record Contract Is Worth
- Blue Eyeliner Bird
- Suite: Judy Really Huge Blue Eyes As Big As Quarters
- Helplessly Hoping Hippies Get Off My Lawn
- Carry On Like It's 1999
- Be The One You're With
- Change Business Partners
- Southern Cross-Eyed