40 Years Ago: David Crosby Crashes Car, Found With Drugs and a Gun
The ’80s were a dark time for David Crosby. After experimenting with drugs in the late ’60s, the Crosby, Stills and Nash member found himself in the tight grip of addiction to cocaine and heroin. And it would take more than a few entanglements with the law before the singer and guitarist would get clean.
The first of the decade’s many run-ins happened on March 28, 1982. It was a Sunday and Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash had planned to perform at an anti-nuclear demonstration near the San Onofre nuclear plant in San Diego County, Calif. Under the influence of cocaine, Crosby was driving himself to the rally when he crashed into a highway divider on a stretch of the San Diego Freeway in Costa Mesa.
According to reports, the 40-year-old Crosby had experienced a “cocaine seizure” before losing control of the vehicle. When emergency teams reported to the scene to extract the rock star from the wreck, police discovered Crosby was in possession of cocaine, as well as a loaded .45-caliber pistol. When authorities asked the singer why he felt the need to travel with a weapon, the former Byrds member allegedly answered, “John Lennon.”
Crosby was arrested by the California Highway Patrol for driving under the influence of cocaine, possession of illegal drugs and drug paraphernalia and carrying a concealed weapon. After being booked, he was released – although not in time to join his bandmates, who played at the rally without him.
The star would later enter a plea bargain to diminish his charges, admitting guilt to a count of reckless driving and entering a term of three years’ probation. But probation would be the least of Crosby’s worries. Three weeks after his California arrest, he was busted again, this time on tour in Dallas, when cops discovered the singer freebasing cocaine with another gun in his lap.
Amid other arrests for assault and drug possession, Crosby eventually did hard time in a Texas state prison, followed by periods in and out of rehabilitation centers. With encouragement from friends and the threat of more prison stints, Crosby eventually went “cold turkey” and made a promise to stay away from hard drugs.
“I think the only thing we were wrong about was the drugs and that was only because we were innocent,” Crosby told Uncut in 2015, while discussing his ’60s ideals. “We didn’t know. We had no idea. We’d only encountered pot and psychedelics and we thought they were sort of beneficial and kinda neat. And then we ran into cocaine and heroin. Oops! We were ignorant, and we didn’t know. But we survived it.”
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