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Stephen Arthur Stills (born January 3, 1945, Dallasmarker, Texasmarker) is an American guitarist and singer/songwriter best known for his work with Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills & Nash . He has performed on a professional level in several other bands as well as maintaining a solo career at the same time. Stills was ranked #28 in Rolling Stone Magazine's 2003 list of "The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time".

Early years

Stills was raised in a military family. Moving around as a child, he developed an interest in blues and folk music. He was also influenced by Latin music after spending his youth in Gainesvillemarker and Tampa, Floridamarker, Louisianamarker, Costa Ricamarker and the Panama Canal Zonemarker, where he graduated from high school, and was an avid sailor. He also attended Admiral Farragut Academy in St. Petersburg, Floridamarker.

Stills dropped out of the University of Floridamarker to pursue a music career in the early 1960s. He played in a series of unsuccessful bands including The Continentals, which featured future Eagles guitarist Don Felder. Stills could also be seen singing solo in Gerde's Folk Citymarker, a well-known coffee house in Greenwich Villagemarker. Stills eventually ended up in a nine-member vocal harmony group, the house act at the famous Cafe Au Go Gomarker in NYC, called the Au Go Go Singersmarker (Rick Geiger, Roy Michaels, Michael Scott, Jean Gurney, Kathy King, Nels Gustafson, Bob Harmelink, future bandmate in Buffalo Springfield Richie Furay & Stills). This group also did some touring in the Catskills and in the South, released one album in 1964, then broke up in 1965. Afterwards, Stills, along with four other former members of the Au Go Go Singers (Geiger, Michaels, Gurney & Scott) formed The Company, a folk/rock group. The Company embarked on a 6-week tour of Canada where Stills met a young guitarist named Neil Young. On the VH1 CSNY Legends special, Stills would say that Young was doing what he always wanted to do, "play folk music in a rock band." (This sentiment was repeated decades later; the shaky relationship has been well documented between the two, although they continued to perform together throughout various times in their lives.) The Company broke up in New York within four months, opening up the way for Geiger to join a light opera company in Los Angeles; Michaels to link up with Jimi Hendrix, Gurney to go on to college while doing TV commercials, and Scott to tour with a retro-Highwaymen. Stills did session work and went to various auditions (including an unsuccessful attempt to become one of The Monkees). In 1966 he convinced a reluctant former Au Go Go Singer, Richie Furay, then living in Massachusetts, to move with him to California.

Buffalo Springfield & CSNY

Stills, Furay, and Young reunited in Los Angelesmarker and formed the core of Buffalo Springfield. Legend has it that Stills and Furay recognized Young's converted hearse on the streets of LA and flagged him down, a meeting described in the recent solo track "Round the Bend". The band would release three albums (Buffalo Springfield, Buffalo Springfield Again, and Last Time Around) and one hit single (Stills' "For What It's Worth") before disbanding.

Stills' guitar playing continually evolved. Early on, it displayed sources in generic rock and roll, blues, and country music, as well as the chordings familiar in the acoustic-folk music scene. Soon Stills' playing showed the influence of his friend Jimi Hendrix and also sometimes the rhythms and riffs of various kinds of Latin music. Stills is notorious for experimenting with the guitar itself. This includes such things as soaking strings in barbecue sauce or flipping pickups to mimic Hendrix playing a right-handed guitar left-handed. He is also known for using unconventional tunings, particularly when performing acoustically. He is also adept at piano, organ and bass and plays some drums. "Stephen had a vision", [Graham] Nash says. "David [Crosby] and I let him run with it". Stills played nearly every instrument on Crosby, Stills and Nash, earning the nickname Captain Manyhands from Rolling Stone.

During the disintegration of Buffalo Springfield, Stills joined up with ex-Byrd David Crosby and ex-Hollie Graham Nash to form the supergroup Crosby, Stills & Nash. Cass Elliot invited Graham Nash over to meet Stills and David Crosby at the home of well known folk musician and painter Joni Mitchell, who painted several artworks of the three. Mitchell also contributed the artwork seen on the cover of the CSNY collection album So Far, released in 1974. The cover photo pictured on the trio's first (self-titled) album in 1969 was taken on the back porch of a house in West Hollywood which was torn down the next day. Stills overdubbed much of the musical backing himself for the first Crosby, Stills, and Nash album with only Dallas Taylor's drums and some rhythm guitar from Crosby and Nash. Neil Young was added for their second album, and the group became Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. Despite several breakups and reformations, CSN (and sometimes CSNY) still record and tour to this day.

Having played at the Monterey Pop Festivalmarker with Buffalo Springfield, and both Woodstockmarker and Altamontmarker with CSNY, Stills performed at all three of the iconic rock festivals of the 1960s.

Solo years

In the wake of CSNY's success, all four members recorded solo albums. In 1970, Stills released his eponymous album debut which featured guests Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix (on what was possibly his last recording before he died), "Mama" Cass Elliot, Booker T Jones and Ringo Starr (credited only as "Richie") as well as contributions from various members of the CSNY band. It provided Stills with the hit single "Love The One You're With" as well as the concert favorite "Black Queen." Stills followed this with Stephen Stills 2, which featured "Change Partners." Even though the song was written before CSN formed, Nash saw it as a metaphor for the many relationships in CSNY, while Stills viewed the band as something much less bland and repetitive.

The next year, Stills teamed up with ex-Byrd Chris Hillman and several CSNY sidemen to form the band Manassas. With Manassas Stills recorded the self-titled double album Manassas. The album was a mixture of blues, folk and Latin music divided into different sections, and is considered by many to be one of Stills' best albums.

During a Manassas tour in France, Stills met and married French singer-songwriter Veronique Sanson. Then he switched to Columbia Records, where he recorded two albums: Stills in 1975 and Illegal Stills, a pun on his name, in 1976. The former record found Stills in an uncharacteristically joyful mood; his marriage was going well, his son Chris had just been born, and he was happy living in Coloradomarker. "To Mama From Christopher and the Old Man" was an exceptionally optimistic view of his new family.

In 1976, Stills attempted a reunion with Neil Young. At one point, Long May You Run was slated to be a CSNY record, but when Crosby and Nash left to fulfill recording and touring obligations, according to both David and Graham the other pair wiped their vocals from the recordings, as Stills and Young decided to go on without their erstwhile partners as The Stills-Young Band. However, Young would leave midway through the resulting tour due to an apparent throat infection. Stills was contractually bound to finish the tour, which he did, but upon returning home, his wife announced she wanted a divorce and wished to move back to France. Stills reunited with Crosby and Nash shortly afterwards, thanks to the efforts of Nash's future wife Susan, who got Nash to forgive Stills for wiping the Crosby and Nash vocals from Long May You Run. This led to the semi-permanent CSN reunion of 1977, which has persisted even though all three have released solo records since then.

In 1979 he travelled to Havanamarker, Cubamarker, to participate in the historic Havana Jam festival that took place between 2-4 March, alongside Weather Report, the CBS Jazz All-Stars, the Trio of Doom, Fania All-Stars, Billy Swan, Bonnie Bramlett, Mike Finnegan, Kris Kristofferson, Rita Coolidge and Billy Joel, plus an array of Cuban artists such as Irakere, with whom he toured the US after the Havana concerts. His performance is captured on Ernesto Juan Castellanos's documentary Havana Jam '79.

Although Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young had difficulties with their differing individual goals, egos, and musical styles, in the early 1983 Daylight Again DVD from the 1982 CSN tour, Stills introduced the song, "Wasted on the Way", commenting that there were "three buddies who didn't know how to talk to one another for years"... finally 'making friends' getting rich, and it being good". Unfortunately, according to Crosby's biography, it was his lowest point in his crack cocaine addiction which left him nearly bankrupt, in prison without funds for a time.

In 1997, Stills became the first person to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Famemarker twice in the same night for his work with CSN and the Buffalo Springfield. Fender guitars crafted a custom guitar and presented it to Stills to commemorate the occasion, this Fender Telecaster style guitar bears an inscription on the neck plate.

2005 saw Stills release Man Alive!, his first solo offering in 14 years. Although not troubling the chart compilers on either side of the Atlantic, the record was critically well received and is regarded by many fans as his best since the mid seventies.

Throughout 2006 and 2007, Stills toured regularly as a solo artist with "The Quartet", which consisted of drummer Joe Vitale, either Mike Finnegan or Todd Caldwell on keyboards, and either Kevin McCormick or Kenny Pasarelli on bass. Often a long acoustic solo section of the show would feature songs rarely played and showcase agile fingerstyle playing in standard and altered tunings. Stills toured Europe as a solo artist for the first time during October 2008.

Political activities

Nearly from their union as sometime musical partners, all four members of CSN&Y have long been involved in liberal causes and politics. In 2000, Stills served as a member of the Democratic credentials committee from Floridamarker during the Democratic National Convention, and was an actual delegate in previous years. Jackson Browne, who has worked closely with CSN and CSNY, often requested their talents either in benefit concerts, or other charitable causes.

Miscellany

Stills was a prolific songwriter before becoming a star performer; his composition "Sit Down, I Think I Love You" was a minor hit for The Mojo Men before it was recorded by Buffalo Springfield.

In 1966, Stills auditioned for The Monkees, but he dropped out, partially because his already-thinning hair and bad teeth made him look too old for the part, and partially because the actor's contract required him to assign his music publishing rights to Screen Gems, something he did not want to do. Stills instead recommended his former roommate, Peter Tork, who got the job.

Stills was a close friend of Jimi Hendrix, who appears on Stills' eponymous first solo album. Reputedly, when Hendrix was forming his trio The Jimi Hendrix Experience, his manager contacted Stills' manager to invite Stills to become the group's bass player. Concerned that Stills' friendship with Hendrix and admiration for Hendrix' genius might prompt Stills to take the job rather than continue with the Buffalo Springfield, Stills' manager elected not to pass the message on to Stills. Noel Redding was then offered and took the job as bassist with the Experience. Within a year, both Stills and Hendrix were superstars in their own right; they continued to socialize and jam together informally until Hendrix' death in 1970.

Several of Stills' most notable songs, "Bluebird," "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" "You Don't Have To Cry" and "Bluebird Revisited," were inspired by his intense, on-again-off-again relationship with singer Judy Collins. In a 1971 interview in Rolling Stone Magazine, the interviewer noted, "So many of your songs seem to be about Judy Collins". Stills replied, "Well, there are three things men can do with women: love them, suffer for them, or turn them into literature. I've had my share of success and failure at all three."

Stills' son, Justin Stills, was badly injured at age 26 snowboarding in Tahoemarker in 1997; an episode of Discovery Health's documentary series Trauma: Life in the ER featured his treatment and recovery. Another son, Henry, has been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome , and is profiled in the 2007 documentary Autism: The Musical. His son Chris and daughter Jennifer are both recording artists. His youngest son, Oliver Ragland, was born in 2004 and named in honor of Neil Young, whose maternal family name is Ragland. Stephen Stills is currently single.
Stills performing in 2006


On May 28, 2007, Stills sang the National Anthem for Game 1 of the 2007 Stanley Cup Finals between Anaheim and Ottawa in Anaheimmarker, Californiamarker.

On December 17, 2007, Graham Nash revealed on Larry King Live that Stills had been diagnosed with early stage prostate cancer and that his operation would take place on January 3, 2008, which is Stills' birthday. Stills said later in January 2008 that he had come through the operation with "flying colors."

Discography

With Buffalo Springfield

Date of release Title Recording dates Peak Billboard chart position RIAA Certification
December 1966
Buffalo Springfield
June - September 1966
#80
November 18, 1967
Buffalo Springfield Again
January - September 1967
#44
July 18, 1968
Last Time Around
February 1967 - May 1968
#42
March 1969
The Best of … Retrospective
(compilation)
June 1966 - April 1968
#42
Platinum
1973
Buffalo Springfield
(compilation)
June 1966 - May 1968
-
July 17, 2001
Buffalo Springfield
(compilation)
June 1966 - May 1968
#194


With Bloomfield/Kooper/Stills

Date of release
Title
Peak Billboard chart position
RIAA Certification
July 22, 1968
Super Session
#12
Gold


With Crosby, Stills & Nash (& Young)

Date of release Title Recording dates Peak Billboard chart position RIAA Certification
May 29, 1969 Crosby, Stills & Nash June 26, 1968 - April 3, 1969 #6 4x Multi-Platinum
March 11, 1970 Déjà Vu July - December 1969 #1 7x Multi-Platinum
April 7, 1971 Four Way Street June 2–July 5, 1970 #1 4x Multi-Platinum
August 19, 1974 So Far
(compilation)
1969-1970 #1 6x Multi-Platinum
June 17 1977 CSN 1976-77 #2 4x Multi-Platinum
June 21, 1982 Daylight Again 1980-1981 #8 Platinum
August 19, 1983 Replay
(compilation)
June 6, 1983 #122 -
November 3, 1988 American Dream May 3, 1988 - September 16, 1988 #16 Platinum
June 11, 1990 Live It Up February 1, 1986 - February 5, 1990 #57 -
October 1991 CSN June 26, 1968 - April 3, 1990 #109 -
August 16, 1994 After The Storm January 27, 1994 - July 1, 1994 #98 -
October 26, 1999 Looking Forward 1996 - 1999 #26 -
March 14, 2005 Greatest Hits 1969-1999 #24
July 22, 2008 Déjà Vu Live 2006 - -


With The Stills-Young Band

Date of release
Title
Recording dates
Peak Billboard chart position
RIAA Certification
"[26241]"
September 10, 1976
Long May You Run
with Stephen Stills
and the Stills-Young Band

February 16 - June 7, 1976
#26
Gold


Solo albums

Date of release
Title
Peak Billboard chart position
RIAA / CRIA Certifications
Label
Information
November 16, 1970
Stephen Stills
#3
Gold
Atlantic
Studio
June 30, 1971
Stephen Stills 2
#8
Gold
Atlantic
April 12, 1972
Manassas
#4
Gold
Atlantic
April 23, 1973
Down the Road
#7
-
Atlantic
June 1975
Stills
#22
-
Columbia
December 1975
Stephen Stills Live
#42
-
Atlantic
Live
March 1976
Illegal Stills
#30
-
Columbia
Studio
December 1976
Still Stills: The Best of Stephen Stills
#127
-
Atlantic
Compilation
September 1978
Thoroughfare Gap
#83
-
Columbia
Studio
July 1984
Right By You
#75
-
Atlantic
September 1991
Stills Alone
-
-
Vision/Gold Hill
November 2003
Turnin' Back The Pages
-
-
Columbia
Compilation
August 2005
Man Alive!
-
-
Titan/Pyramid
Studio
July 2007
Just Roll Tape
-
-
Eyewall/Rhino
Compilation
September 2009
Pieces
-
-
Rhino/Atlantic
October 2009
Live at Shepherd's Bush
-
-
Rhino
Live


References



External links




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