On January 19, it was announced that legendary musician David Crosby had died at the age of 81 after a “long illness.” This came via a statement from Crosby’s wife Jan Dance, which Charles Trepany and Melissa Ruggieri shared for USA TODAY. Here’s a CBS Mornings career retrospective on the man who was a founding member of not just the Byrds but also Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young:
Dance’s statement did not clarify what specifically Crosby’s long illness was, but there’s been a turn, turn, turn of claims on social media since the announcement. And a lot of discussion has, surprise, surprise, circled around Covid-19. After all, we are still in the midst of a Covid-19 pandemic, meaning that the risk of getting infected with the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is still quite high. At the same time, the amount of misinformation circulating about Covid-19 and Covid-19 vaccines has gone eight miles high.
So whenever you hear of a death these days, don’t just start sucking in what you may hear on social media as if you were smoking a gigantic joint. Instead, consider the sources behind each bit of information first and look for confirmation and verification of what you hear.
One assertion that’s made the social media rounds is that Crosby succumbed to Covid-19. Based on what’s been shared on social media, this belief seems to have emerged largely from what Roger Friedman posted on his website Showbiz411.com: “Sources tell me Crosby died from COVID. He was most likely vaccinated, but may have had co-morbidities.” Showbiz411.com is an entertainment industry news and film review site that Friedman launched in 2009 after serving as a columnist for New York magazine and then a reporter for FOX News. In his post, Friedman didn’t offer further details on his sources, and there hasn’t yet been additional confirmation of what Friedman had indicated.
Crosby did have Covid-19 before, according to a May 15, 2022, article in Variety by Chris Willman. Back then, Willman had quoted Crosby as telling a journalism class at Golden High School in Golden, Colorado, the following about his Covid-19 experience: “It has been awful. COVID is a very weird disease. It makes you feel absolutely freaking awful. It has been thoroughly unpleasant…it’s no fun at all. You want to avoid it if you possibly can.” So if Covid-19 was indeed the cause of Crosby’s death, another question is whether it was the result of longer term organ damage from his earlier bout with the infection versus a possible new infection from the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) more recently. A combination of both is possible as well.
Of course, “long illness” shouldn’t automatically equate to Covid-19. Other medical conditions haven’t taken vacations during the Covid-19 pandemic. Crosby certainly had his share of other health challenges over the past several decades. He had struggled with drug and alcohol addiction previously and received a liver transplant in 1994 after suffering from chronic hepatitis C infection. More recently, he’s had Type 2 diabetes and underwent a cardiac catheterization in 2014. So, it’s not clear what medical conditions he may have been struggling with recently.
Not surprisingly, when word spread that Crosby may have died from Covid-19, some used this as an opportunity to try to bash Covid-19 vaccines. For example, one person asserted, “News reports say David Crosby, the legendary singer of the Byrds, died of Covid-19. If so, it’s yet more evidence that we were told a great many lies about these vaccines, which do not prevent Covid transmission (which even the CDC finally admits).”
Umm, many scientists have for the past two years clearly indicated that the Covid-19 vaccines do not offer 100% protection against Covid-19. If you Google my name and “not a concrete full-body condom,” you’ll see the number of times I have repeatedly emphasized this point since the Covid-19 vaccines first became available. Again, just because you’ve been vaccinated against Covid-19 doesn’t mean that you can’t get infected by the SARS-CoV-2. Moreover, studies have shown that the immune protection conferred by the vaccines wanes over time.
Then there’s been posts such as the following: “Here it is, the media is beginning to blame COVID-19 for David Crosby’s death. However, he caught COVID after the vaccine— seemingly like all of the others. The vaccine seems to give them COVID.” Yeah, file this under “blame the vaccine without offering evidence” category. Hundred of thousands of people died from Covid-19 even before the Covid-19 vaccines became available. The vaccines do not contain the live virus. So how exactly are they able to give you Covid-19?
At this point, it’s still too early to conclude that Crosby died of Covid-19. And there really has been no evidence that the Covid-19 vaccines were his undoing. For now, it’s best to stick with the things that are sure. Crosby’s musical career has left everyone with a legacy of hits from his early Byrds stuff like “Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season)” and “Eight Miles High” to his Crosby, Stills, and Nash tracks such as “Lady Friend” and “Guinnevere” to his solo material such as “Laughing” and “Rodriguez for a Night.” Crosby also was quite active on Twitter up until January 18, regularly tweeting on a variety of topics ranging from evaluating pictures of blunts to being blunt about how more action needs to be taken about climate change. Let’s leave you with one of Crosby’s last tweets.