Stephen Stills is one of rock music’s most enduring figures with a career now spanning six decades, multiple solo works, and four hugely influential groups – Manassas, Buffalo Springfield, Crosby, Stills & Nash (CSN), and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (CSNY). He has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice for Buffalo Springfield and CSN, is a member of the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, and is a BMI Music Icon. As renowned for his instrumental virtuosity as for writing era-defining anthems including “For What It’s Worth” and “Love The One You’re With,” Stills is ranked #28 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time, calling his acoustic picking on “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” “a paragon of unplugged beauty.” Three of his albums, Buffalo Springfield Again, Crosby, Stills & Nash, and Déjà Vu, are among Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
Stills first rose to national and international fame with Buffalo Springfield, which formed in Los Angeles in 1966 with the original line-up of Stills, Neil Young, Richie Furay—the group’s triumvirate of guitarists—along with Bruce Palmer (bass), and Dewey Martin (drums). The group delivered three albums and song classics including “Mr. Soul,” “Rock and Roll Woman,” “For What It’s Worth (Stop, Hey, What’s That Sound),” “Bluebird,” and “Go and Say Goodbye” before disbanding in 1968. While Buffalo Springfield’s time together was short, the impact of its music never waned, and a 2011 reunion tour was one of the most buzzed-about music events of the year.
After Buffalo Springfield’s original run, Stills began collaborating with David Crosby, recently departed from The Byrds, and Graham Nash, who was preparing to exit The Hollies. Their casual encounter in a Laurel Canyon studio in 1968 led to one of the most celebrated and long-lasting partnerships in contemporary music and many of the most beautiful vocal harmonies of the rock and roll era. CSN’s landmark self-titled debut LP featured the Stills-penned hits “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” and “Helplessly Hoping,” and earned the trio the GRAMMY® for Best New Artist. Stills’ old bandmate Young joined CSN for the follow-up, 1970’s #1 CSN&Y masterpiece Déjà Vu, which included the Stills-penned “Carry On,” “4+20” and “Everybody I Love You” (a co-write with Young). Other Stills-composed classics on subsequent albums include “Find The Cost Of Freedom” and “Dark Star.”
For the next four decades, Stills continued to tour with both configurations of the group. In 2012, CSN released CSN 2012 on DVD which documented their acclaimed 87-city world tour. Stephen’s daughter, photographer Eleanor Stills, shot the cover photo. The previous year, CSN played the high-profile all-star benefit concert for Musicians United for Safe Energy at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, CA (which also featured Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, Jason Mraz, Tom Morello, the Doobie Brothers, Kitaro, Sweet Honey in the Rock, and Jonathan Wilson). In 2009, Demos was released, featuring 12 previously unissued CSN tracks recorded between 1968 and 1971. The most recent CSNY collaboration was the politically charged 2006 “Freedom Of Speech” tour, spotlighting the group’s collective repertoire in addition to selections from each member’s solo endeavors.
Stills launched his solo career with 1970’s Stephen Stills, about which AllMusic.com’s Bruce Eder wrote, “Listening to this album three decades on, it’s still a jaw-dropping experience, the musical equal to Crosby, Stills & Nash or Déjà Vu.” Featuring all-star musical friends Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Rita Coolidge and others, the disc introduced the Stills classic “Love The One You’re With.” Other solo highlights include 1971’s Stephen Stills 2, featuring “Change Partners,” “Marianne” and “Know You Got To Run,” Stills (1975), Thoroughfare Gap (1978), and Stills Alone (1991). More recently is the critically acclaimed Man Alive! (2006), Just Roll Tape (2007), featuring 12 demos recorded on April 26, 1968 that had been lost for 40 years, Pieces (2009) a 15-song set of unreleased recordings from sessions for both Manassas albums, and Live At Shepherd’s Bush (2009) which captures Stills’ 2008 concert at the London venue.
In 2013, Stills released Carry On, a four-CD anthology capturing the remarkable scope of his career with 83 tracks of essential recordings, live cuts, new mixes, and 25 previously unreleased tracks to retrace the musical paths and diverse genres – including folk, rock, blues, jazz, country, and Latin – he’s explored. The songs unfold mostly in chronological order, leading off with its oldest entry: “Travelin” – a previously unreleased recording that Stills made at age 17 in Costa Rica (one of the many places he lived growing up in a military family.) The youngest track, recorded in 2012, features CSN performing “Girl From The North Country” in New York City during a sold-out five-night run at the Beacon Theater that closed the group’s acclaimed 2012 world tour. Accompanying the discs is a 113-page booklet with rare photos and extensive liner notes.
That same year Stills formed a new hit band – The Rides – with fellow guitar slinger Kenny Wayne Shepherd and venerable Electric Flag keyboardist Barry Goldberg and released the group’s debut blues-rock album Can’t Get Enough. Featuring four co-written originals, a handful of covers, and a vintage, previously unrecorded Stills gem, Can’t Get Enough was inspired by – and is an homage to – the now-classic 1968 album Super Session, which featured Stills on guitar on one side, and the late Mike Bloomfield on the other (Bloomfield had founded Electric Flag with Goldberg, who also played on Super Session). As The Rides bring a historic and distinctively American musical form into the 21st century, Stills calls the group the “the blues band of my dreams.” The band released its sophomore effort Pierced Arrow in 2016, which, like its predecessor, hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Blues Chart.
In 2017, Stills teamed up with singer-songwriter and fellow icon of folk Judy Collins to celebrate the golden anniversary of their formative time together (their tumultuous love affair was immortalized by Stills with his composition “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes”). The duo’s studio collaboration, Everybody Knows, credited to “Stills & Collins,” was released in conjunction with their sold-out co-headline 2017-2018 tour, which marked the first time ever the two have been onstage together. For this once-in-a lifetime experience, the two music legends pulled from their rich catalogs, debuted songs from their album, and shared warm and intimate stories from their journeys and the 1960s folk and Laurel Canyon scenes they helped build.
Stills has long believed that music is a powerful platform to inspire positive change. Last year, he teamed with award-winning actor and singer Billy Porter to create “For What It’s Worth (Something Happening Here Remix), a dramatic re-imagining of Stills’ classic Buffalo Springfield protest anthem “For What It’s Worth.” On the new recording, Stills contributed impassioned background vocals and stinging guitar leads. Ahead of the single’s release (all proceeds benefitted Michelle Obama’s When We All Vote organization), the two previewed the track in a virtual performance on the opening night of the 2020 DNC Convention. Additionally, in 2020 Stills launched his own InStill Change social platform dedicated to fostering active, informed citizen engagement in the belief that the nation needs competent, ethical and serious leaders.
Stills continues to lend his support to a number of causes. Since 2013, Stills and his wife Kristen have been hosts and organizers of Light Up the Blues, annual star-studded concert events that have helped raise close to $2 million to benefit Autism Speaks’ research and advocacy efforts for families and individuals impacted by the disorder. From its first show at Los Angeles’ Club Nokia to the most recent concert in 2018 at L.A.’s Dolby Theater, the events are emceed by Jack Black and have featured artists including Neil Young, Burt Bacharach, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Beck, John Mayer, Sheryl Crow, Judy Collins, Ryan Adams, Brandi Carlile, Don Felder, Jakob Dylan, Nikka Costa, The War On Drugs, and more.