More than 40 black-and-white photos hang against the brick and white walls that make up Copper & Kings‘ second-floor art gallery. The intimate space, which has splashes of the brandy distillery’s orange signature color, is the perfect backdrop for “David Crosby: Portrait of the Artist at 75.”
Louisville-based photographer and attorney Jeffery Parrish had intimate access to the legendary musician before and after his recent 75th birthday, and he was able to get up close and personal with a man he considers a friend throughout five stops on Crosby’s solo tour.
If you haven’t followed Crosby of late, he’s released three solo albums in four years, and his most recent, “Sky Trails,” just came out on Friday. The legendary musician, of course, was a member of The Byrds in the late 1960s and formed Crosby, Stills & Nash (and later Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young) soon after leaving that band.
He’s battled addiction, spent time in prison on drug charges and even survived a liver transplant. But, says Parrish, he’s happier today than he’s ever been.
Parrish’s photos depict a man doing exactly what he enjoys doing: creating. Whether it’s during a sound check with other musicians or standing on stage with only a guitar, Crosby is content in his life and has no plans to slow down or hang up his instrument.
In a 2016 interview with Stereogum, Crosby talked about his penchant for writing and creating, even at 75.
“I can’t figure it out. I do not have a nice, fluid answer for you. I’m happy. That’s, I think, what’s going on,” he told reporter Ryan Leas. “I think it’s as simple as that. I’m happy with my family, I’m very happy with my life, and I’m very happy with music. I think that has to do with me doing as well as I’m doing … if that’s all it is, there couldn’t be a better reason.”
Parrish tells Insider he’s known Crosby for more than 30 years, having first met him and his wife, Jan, in the Bahamas. And in the mid ’90s, Parrish sailed around with the two in Crosby’s 59-foot schooner.
So when Crosby embarked on a solo tour in 2016, Parrish asked if he could tag along to a few dates with his camera. He dabbles in photography, he says, but you wouldn’t know that from seeing the quality of the photos in this exhibit.
Parrish joined Crosby at the first show in Santa Barbara, Calif., Crosby’s hometown concert, and then at a handful of others along the way, including Miami, Nashville, Evansville, Ind., and Danville, Ky. Most of the photos, however, come from that very first show.
“It was a special show, being able to hear David solo — just him and a guitar performing on his hometown stage,” he says.
Parrish put together a book of photos after the tour, mainly as a gift to Crosby, but he also showed them to local gallery owner Paul Paletti, who at the time was organizing the Louisville Photo Biennial now happening all throughout the city.
Paletti encouraged him to participate in the event and chose Copper & Kings as the venue due to its tie-in with rock music.
The photographer hopes the show will shed a new light on the music legend and inspire others to keep chasing whatever it is that makes them happy.
“It was a huge step (for Crosby) to turn away from Crosby, Stills & Nash, because they could go out on tour and fill nice-sized venues,” says Parrish. “But they weren’t making any new music. David lives to create. He’s running at 110 miles per hour all the time. He’s constantly curious and does not know how to sit back and relax. For him to go through the motions of playing music but not making new music, he left that behind and opened a door to just being creative.”
“David Crosby: Portrait of the Artist at 75” continues at Copper & Kings through Nov. 11. The exhibit is free and open to the public every day. There will be a special event on Friday, Nov. 3, featuring a tribute to the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young historic album “Déjà Vu” by local musician Danny Flanigan.
Here are more shots from the exhibit: