Legendary singer-songwriter and guitarist Stephen Stills is the only artist ever to have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame two times in one night—in 1997, for Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, and Nash (CSN). In 2011, Stills performed high-profile dates with both iconic acts, in addition to touring on his own. One of rock music's most enduring figures, Stills is also a member of the Songwriter's Hall of Fame, a BMI Music Icon (with CSN), and has a career now spanning six decades, multiple solo works, and four hugely influential groups—Manassas and Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young (CSN&Y), in addition to the two already mentioned.
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. They noted, "…in Springfield and CSN&Y, Stills challenged and complemented Young's feral breaks with a country-inflected chime. And a continuing highlight of CSN&Y shows is Stills' acoustic picking in ‘Suite: Judy Blue Eyes'— a paragon of unplugged beauty." Three of Stills' albums are also among Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time: Buffalo Springfield Again, Crosby, Stills & Nash (on which he played almost every instrument) and Déjà Vu.
Stills' most recent solo release is 2009's Live At Shepherd's Bush, which captures him at a 2008 London concert. 2009 also marked the release of Pieces, a 15-song set of unreleased recordings from sessions for both albums from Manassas, the acclaimed and short-lived group Stills formed in 1971 with Chris Hillman, Dallas Taylor, and other ace players. Both titles followed up the historic collection Just Roll Tape – April 26th 1968, released in 2007. The date references a long-gone day in a NYC studio when Stills recorded 12 demos after his then-girlfriend Judy Collins had finished her session. Lost for 40 years, the tapes contained the first-ever takes of songs that would later become Stills solo hits—including the fan favorite "Treetop Flyer" from 1991's Stills Alone—as well as tracks by CSN, CSN&Y and Manassas, including "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes," "Wooden Ships," "So Begins The Task," and "Helplessly Hoping." Man Alive! (2006) is Stills' most recent solo studio album. Rolling Stone's David Wild called it, "the sort of assured album that can stand alongside Stills' best early solo albums and his work with Manassas." Highlights include "Ain't It Always" and "Wounded World," which features Graham Nash on harmony vocals, as does the anti-war anthem "Feed The People," now a CSN concert highlight. Man Alive! also features Neil Young on "Drivin' Thunder," "Different Man," and "Round The Bend," an autobiographical musical recounting of their original meeting in the 1960s. The BBC's Chris Jones commented, "Man Alive! runs the spectrum from full-on rock to mellow acoustics with ease and energy to spare…It's this diversity that's always set Stills apart from his comrades."
He 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). Stills and Furay had previously played together with the Au Go Go singers, which Stills joined during the spell he lived in Greenwich Village. They happened to cross paths with Young (then fronting his band The Squires) on a 1965 tour through Canada. A year later, driving down Sunset Boulevard in L.A., Stills and Furay recognized a hearse with Ontario plates—Young was behind the wheel, Palmer his passenger. They began playing together, and Buffalo Springfield was born.
The group disbanded in 1968, delivering 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." While Buffalo Springfield's time together was short, the impact of its music never waned, and a 2011 reunion tour was one of the top music events of the year. It came about as the result of the remaining members of the band—Stills, Young, and Furay—performing as Buffalo Springfield at Neil and Pegi Young's Bridge School Benefit in Northern California in October 2010. Young's longtime bassist Rick Rosas filled in for the late Bruce Palmer, and CSN drummer Joe Vitale sat in for the late Dewey Martin. The reconnection was thrilling, and gave new life to the legendary band.
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). Both albums are included on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time. Other Stills-composed classics on subsequent albums include "Carry On," "Find The Cost Of Freedom" and "Dark Star."
Stills continues to tour and record with both configurations of the group. In 2011, CSN played several high profile dates, including the 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. Rare versions of songs that would later become signature hits include the trio harmonizing on "Marrakesh Express." The most recent CSN&Y 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." Solo highlights also include 1971's Stephen Stills 2, featuring "Change Partners," "Marianne" and "Know You Got To Run." Billboard Magazine wrote, "His spectacular vocal style coupled with outstanding lyrics and music make this a must for every pop music fan." His solo catalogue includes Stills (1975), Thoroughfare Gap (1978), and Stills Alone (1991).