On Dec. 8, 1968, Graham Nash officially left The Hollies, the band he had co-founded with Alan Price in the early ’60s (named for both Buddy Holly and Christmas). Nash left England for Los Angeles and connected with ex-Byrds member David Crosby and ex-Buffalo Springfield member Stephen Stills to form Crosby, Stills & Nash – or simply CS&N.
Nash had met Crosby and Stills on previous occasions. According to famed rock photographer Henry Diltz, Cass Elliot (of The Mamas and The Papas) played a key role in the trio’s formation. Elliot was connected with artists in LA, NYC and Britain. At a Laurel Canyon party in the summer of ’68, Elliot had Crosby and Stills sing a song they had been working on, “You Don’t Have to Cry,” and she encouraged Nash to step in and add his harmonies (as she knew he had done on several songs for The Hollies). The rest, as they say, is history. David Crosby alludes to that moment in the song’s intro from this 1982 concert performance: http://bit.ly/YouDontHaveToCry
Having been in bands where the members were treated like replaceable parts by the record label, the trio decided to use their names to identify the band—and so the first super group in pop music was formed.
Crosby, Stills and Nash released their debut album in May of 1969 and received accolades for their performance at Woodstock in August. Crosby, Stills and Nash (with its cover photo by Henry Diltz) would reach #6 on the US album charts and #25 in the UK. Nash wrote three songs on the LP: the group’s first single “Marrakesh Express” (which got to #28 on the Billboard Hot 100), “Lady of the Island” and the psychedelic folk song about love for a touring musician, “Pre-Road Downs.”
(Sadly, the embedding function for the “Pre-Road Downs” clip has been disabled, but check it out. There are lots of wonderful, candid Henry Diltz photos throughout the video.)