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Legendary singer-songwriter David Crosby dies at 81

The ‘60s folk-rock pioneer was a founding member of the Byrds and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.
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/ Source: NBC News

David Crosby, the legendary singer-songwriter and founding member of the Byrds and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, has died, a source close to the musician confirmed Thursday. He was 81.

The two-time Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee died after a long illness, his wife said in a statement to Variety.

“He was lovingly surrounded by his wife and soulmate Jan and son Django,” she told the outlet. “Although he is no longer here with us, his humanity and kind soul will continue to guide and inspire us. His legacy will continue to live on through his legendary music.”

Pop group The Byrds (l to r): Chris Hillman; Dave Crosby; Mike Clark; Jim McGuinn; and Gene Clark. (Photo by © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)
From left, The Byrds, Chris Hillman, Dave Crosby, Mike Clark, Jim McGuinn, and Gene Clark, in 1965.Hulton-Deutsch Collection / Corbis via Getty Images file

In a Facebook post, former bandmate Graham Nash recalled the focus on their sometimes-volatile relationship — Crosby lashed out at him publicly as recently as two years ago in an interview with the Guardian — but said that the “pure joy” of making music with Crosby was what mattered most.

“David was fearless in life and in music,” Nash said. “He leaves behind a tremendous void as far as sheer personality and talent in this world. He spoke his mind, his heart, and his passion through his beautiful music and leaves an incredible legacy. These are the things that matter most.”

Crosby’s final release, “Live at the Capitol Theater,” came out last month. In an interview with the site ultimateclassicrock.com, he described the performance captured in the recording as “magical.”

Crosby, who was born in Los Angeles, joined the Byrds in 1964, scoring their first hit with Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man.”

Crosby, Stills and Nash posing backstage at the Warfield Theater in San Francisco on November 23 1991 (L-R): David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash.
From left, David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash of Crosby, Stills & Nash in San Francisco, on Nov. 23 1991.Clayton Call / Redferns file

Crosby, Stills & Nash — later known as Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young when joined by musician Neil Young — were founded the following year and released a series of hits with “Marrakesh Express,” “Just a Song Before I Go,” “Woodstock” and others.

The band’s album, “Looking Forward,” was released in 1999.

Crosby was inducted to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame twice — once in 1991 with the Byrds and again six years later with Crosby, Stills & Nash.

In last month’s interview, he said that he was no longer touring because of tendonitis in both hands.

This story first appeared on NBCNews.com.