In a three-decade rock 'n' roll career, David Crosby has probably supplied enough stories to keep a struggling supermarket tabloid from going out of business.
Tales of heroin and cocaine addictions. A nine-month stint in a Texas prison. And a down-to-the-wire liver transplant that saved his life in 1994.
But the most remarkable story is just emerging.
While Crosby was preparing for his transplant, he learned a son he gave up for adoption in the 1960s had been searching for him. He met the man, James Raymond, and discovered that his abandoned child had grown up to be -- what else? -- a successful keyboardist and composer.
The two started writing songs together, hooked up with studio guitarist Jeff Pevar and faster than you can say Crosby, Stills and Nash, a new trio was born.
Call them Crosby, Pevar and Raymond -- CPR for short. Given that they started just as Crosby was getting a second lease on life, the name certainly applies.
"It's like a song fountain, we have been writing so much," the 56-year-old Crosby brags of the new group, which will release its debut album soon. Raymond, 36, agrees the atmosphere has been electric. "I think we both hear things very much the same way," he says.
Raymond was born when the future Rock and Roll Hall of Famer was a young, wayward musician. The child was the result of a fleeting relationship -- Crosby refuses to identify the mother -- and was put up for adoption immediately.
But he never forgot the son he fathered -- and as he was awaiting a new liver, his thoughts grew stronger. "I was in the hospital dying, and I knew that I had a son out there some place. I had been beating myself up for years about not being there for this kid," he says.
Meanwhile, Raymond had done well in the intervening three decades. Growing up in relative comfort in California, Crosby's home state, he pursued music from an early age, studying classical first, then jazz. By the time he was 30, he was musical director for an award-winning Nickelodeon series ("Roundhouse") and a busy touring sideman for everyone from Chaka Khan to Take 6.
Raymond had known he was adopted from the time he was in grade school. But it was only when he was established personally and professionally that he decided to seek out his birth parents. He was shocked when he saw the name on his birth certificate.
"I didn't think it was the David Crosby," he recalls. But he discovered it was true. He contacted Crosby just before his transplant, and the two met for lunch three months later.
Says Crosby, "He was this nice, decent young guy and we became friends immediately."
Friends -- and collaborators. The pair, who consider their relationship more brotherly than father-son, found similar tastes and sensibilities. Granted, Raymond didn't own any CSN albums, but he knew the group well enough to sing along with the radio as a teen-ager.
"I always wondered why I blended so well," he kids.
Crosby sparked the professional association by giving Raymond a homework assignment -- the lyrics to a song he was writing inspired by the tumultuous life of Jim Morrison.
The pair played the piece for Graham Nash at his house -- and it just so happened that Pevar, a guitarist who's worked with CSN, also was there. "He started jamming, and that's when the idea [for the group] came to David," recalls Raymond. By January 1997, CPR was playing dates.
Although Crosby will slip in reworked versions of some of his greatest hits in concert, the group is clearly not a CSN clone. If anything, critics have likened its jazzy sensibility to Steely Dan.
Pub Date: 6/13/98