When David Crosby, Graham Nash and Stephen Stills merged their musical talents in the late 1960s, it was more than just three musicians with an uncanny knack for vocal harmonies.
All three happened to be exceptional songwriters in their own right. In fact, Crosby, Stills and Nash (and later Neil Young) were never so much a band as a collection of individual talents. Nash had his songs, Crosby had a few and Stills - perhaps the most enigmatic of the trio - had his.But if any of the three exhibited a genius for writing great rock 'n' roll it is Stephen Stills. Some of the best songs in the modern era of rock 'n' roll bear Stills' signature: "For What It's Worth," "Southern Cross." In fact, many of the "hits" attributed to CS&N are not CS&N at all, but Stills' ("Change Partners" and "Love the One You're With," to name two).
Stephen Stills will bring his repertoire to the Salt Palace Saturday night for a solo concert at 8 p.m. Tickets to the show (a birthday celebration for radio station KLZX) are only $4.93.
After dropping out of the University of Florida, Stills began his musical career on the folk music circuit on Royal Street in New Orleans before moving to New York City. It was there he was introduced to the 12-string guitar and wrote arrangements for the Au Go Go Singers, a band that included Richie Furay.
He soon met Neil Young, an aspiring Canadian musician, and with Furay they moved to California to pursue the notion of playing folk music with electric guitars. Buffalo Springfield was born, and the now-legendary band's self-titled debut featured songs all written by Young and Stills.
It was Stills' "For What It's Worth" that became the anthem for an entire generation of youth caught up in the protests of the late 1960s, and the song remains a standard on rock-oriented radio stations.
While Buffalo Springfield was a good idea, an even better one was born in 1969. A chance meeting with David Crosby of the Byrds and Graham Nash of the Hollies led to instant friendship and the resulting 1969 album "Crosby, Stills and Nash," with the singles "Marrakesh Express" and "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes."
In mid-1969, Neil Young signed on, and the resulting "Deja Vu" album remains one of the best albums both critically and commercially ever recorded. It yielded the singles "Our House," "Woodstock" and "Teach Your Children," and elevated all four songwriters to superstar status.
When the quartet went their separate ways in 1970, Stills recorded his first solo album "Stephen Stills," which featured superstars Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix and Ringo Starr, and launched the single "Love the One You're With" (now a staple of the CS&N's live shows).
"Stephen Stills 2" was released in 1971, containing the favorites "Know You Got to Run" and "Change Partners." In 1972, with a band that featured Chris Hillman, came the classic "Manassas" and in 1973 the equally acclaimed "Down the Road."
After a reunion tour with CSN&Y, "Stills" was released in 1975 with the single "Turn Back the Pages," and in 1976, he reunited with Neil Young for "Long May You Run." Stills' "Illegal Stills" followed in late 1976.
Former bandmates Graham Nash and David Crosby joined Stills in 1977 for the still-popular "CSN" release that featured "Just a Song Before I Go" and Stills' disturbing "Dark Star."
Other Stills' solo efforts followed, but it wasn't until 1981 when the CS&N trio reunited for "Daylight Again" that Stills & Co. reached new heights of popularity. Songs like "Wasted on the Way" and "Southern Cross" catapulted the trio to the top of the charts. A 1983 live album "Allies" also featured Stills' hit "War Games."
In 1984, Hillman and Jimi Page joined Stills for "Right By You," a critically acclaimed but largely ignored solo release.
Stills has been back in the limelight throughout 1988 and 1989 with the long-anticipated reunion of CSN&Y. Stills' collaborations with Neil Young on the "American Dream" album are among the album's best.
Stills has been to Utah several times in recent years with Nash and Crosby. This will be his first solo appearance in Salt Lake in many, many years.