30 Years Ago: David Crosby Sentenced to Prison
Given how frequently their illegal actions are reported, it’s surprising that most rockers haven’t served jail time. David Crosby was not one of the lucky ones.
Crosby was arrested in a Dallas nightclub in April 1982 for possessing a .45-caliber handgun and freebasing cocaine. Despite his lifetime of activism against war and violence, Crosby began carrying a gun for protection after John Lennon was killed on Dec. 8, 1980. As part of an attempt at a plea bargain, he entered a New Jersey rehab facility a few months later but left after two days because he was not allowed to have any musical instruments. Crosby was convicted in June 1983 and sentenced on Aug. 5, 1983, receiving five years for the drugs and three years for the gun charges, to be served concurrently.
“They got me for a quarter of a gram of pipe residue,” he told People at the time in an article called ‘Cocaine Casualty.’ “For that I’m going to spend five years in the state penitentiary? A quarter of a gram?”
When he was arrested, Crosby was caught in the grip of a cocaine addiction that caused him to squander all the money he had made over the years. “David [freebases] pretty much from when he gets up to when he collapses,” a friend said in the same article. “I think you can safely say that David has smoked up everything he owns — all the cars, everything.”
Attempts to appeal the decision were unsuccessful, and on March 6, 1986, Crosby began serving his sentence. He was released on parole five months later, on Aug. 8.
Crosby would later credit his time in prison for helping him kick cocaine. But in 2004, he was arrested again for illegally possessing a hunting knife, a handgun and an ounce of marijuana. This time the charges were less severe — he was fined $5,000.