S tephen Stills was a rock star before he ever ventured into the harmonizing folk-rock trio that would inaugurate large-scale stadium tours. After establishing his sound on Buffalo Springfield’s enduring “For What It’s Worth,” Stills helped craft some of the biggest hits of Crosby, Stills and Nash while making hit solo albums, a duo album with Neil Young and two with a whole other band named Manassas, after the Civil War battlefield in Virginia. ¶ Stills is a classic rock Zelig, having played all of the big festivals — from Monterey Pop (with Buffalo Springfield) to Woodstock and Altamont (with CSNY — after Neil Young joined). A decade later, he played the Havana Jam, then No Nukes and Live Aid. ¶ Stills, 70, auditioned with the Monkees, got both Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton to play on his solo debut, and played percussion on the Bee Gees’ “You Should Be Dancing.” In recent years, Stills recorded a blues album with Kenny Wayne Shepherd. ¶ Now, in a year when CSN has already toured Asia and the United States and heads to Europe in the fall, Stills is gearing up for a solo tour that kicks off July 6 not far from that battlefield, at Alexandria’s Birchmere, where Crosby had a solo date in June and Nash has one in August. Here’s a look at Stills’s timeline so far.
Stephen Stills July 6 at 7:30 p.m. at the Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria.
703-549-7500. www.birchmere.com. Show is sold out.
January: Stephen Arthur Stills is born to a military family in Dallas.
January: Stills is briefly in a band called the Continentals in Gainesville, Fla., with future Eagles guitarist Don Felder. And when his family moves to Costa Rica, he records tracks out of boredom. One of them, “Travelin’,” which he cut at age 17, would surface on a boxed set more than 50 years later.
July: While playing New York’s Greenwich Village as a solo act, Stills joins the Au Go Go Singers, an outfit born at the Cafe au Go Go nightclub that also included future Buffalo Springfield bandmate Richie Furay.
April: The Company, a band formed from the Au Go Go Singers, tours Canada, where Stills first meets Neil Young at the Fourth Dimension Coffeehouse in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Young’s group, the Squires, is the opening act.
September: Back in Los Angeles, Stills auditions for the Monkees, but suggests his friend Peter Tork, who gets the gig.
April: Stills forms Buffalo Springfield with Furay, Young and others. They release three studio albums, but break up after two years.
December: Records “For What It’s Worth” with Buffalo Springfield, which would become the band’s biggest hit when released a month later.
J anuary: “Sit Down, I Think I Love You,” a song Stills wrote for Buffalo Springfield, becomes a Top 40 hit for the San Francisco group the Mojo Men.
Early: Stills collaborates with Paul Kantner of Jefferson Airplane and David Crosby, recently dismissed from the Byrds, on the song “Wooden Ships” while on Crosby’s boat in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
May: Stills records with Al Kooper on the album “Super Session” when guitarist Mike Bloomfield fails to finish the session. He’s on side two, including the 11-minute take of “Season of the Witch.”
July: During a party at Joni Mitchell’s house, Stills and Crosby first harmonize with Graham Nash of the Hollies, on Stills’s song “You Don’t Have to Cry.” They decide to form a trio.
May: The debut “Crosby, Stills & Nash” album is released, featuring two Top 40 hits — “Marrakesh Express” and Stills’s “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.”
August: Crosby, Stills and Nash, with new member Young, plays its second gig — at Woodstock.
March: The band’s second album, “Deja Vu,” is the first credited to Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. It would spawn three Top 40 hits — “Woodstock,” “Teach Your Children” and “Our House.”
May: “Ohio” is recorded by CSNY 17 days after the killings at Kent State University in Ohio. Released in June, it reaches No. 14.
May: By now, each member of the band also is recording on his own. Stills trades licks with Jimi Hendrix in the studio. The only track officially released from that particular session appears on the 2013 Stills anthology “Carry On” and titled “No-Name Jam.”
November: The solo album “Stephen Stills” is released, reaching No. 3 the following month with “Love the One You’re With,” which becomes Stills’s biggest hit single, reaching No. 14. Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Ringo Starr are among guests on the LP (as are Crosby and Nash).
June: Stills’s second solo album, “Stephen Stills 2,” released seven months after the first, peaks at No. 8. Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia plays pedal steel on the single “Change Partners.” Other contributors include Clapton, Nils Lofgren and Billy Preston.
May: Stills’s new band, Manassas, releases its debut double album. The group features ex-Byrd Chris Hillman and two other members of Hillman’s band at the time, the Flying Burrito Brothers.
May: Second and final Manassas album is released. The band would break up after a 1973 tour that ended with a San Francisco show where Stills was joined onstage by Crosby, Nash and Young.
June: CSNY tries out material for a new album at sessions that break down acrimoniously. Still, the band plans a fall tour.
October: CSNY tour canceled after Young drops out.
July: Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young are encouraged to re-form for a concert tour that would end up grossing $11 million, a record at the time. Although the shows were recorded, a live album wasn’t released until 2014.
December: The band manages to record a few songs before sessions break down again.
January: As Stills and Nash argue over a single harmony note, Young leaves the session, vowing to never return.
June: Stills releases his third solo album, “Stills,” the first of three for Columbia Records.
June: Stills plays percussion on the Bee Gees’ No. 1 single “You Should Be Dancing.”
June: Stills and Young combine as the Stills/Young Band, but their tour lasts only nine dates before Young splits.
August: Stills sees a show at Los Angeles’s Greek Theatre by Crosby and Nash, who had been recording and touring together; the three end up singing on the encore of “Teach Your Children.”
September: The Stills/Young Band album, “Long May You Run,” is released and reaches No. 26. Vocal contributions by Crosby and Nash had been erased, causing Crosby to vow he’d never work with either of them again.
December: Crosby changes his mind, and CSN goes back into the studio to record again, without Young.
June: The reunited Crosby, Stills and Nash releases “CSN,” its second album as a trio, and fifth overall, which goes to No. 2 with Nash’s Top 10 “Just a Song Before I Go.”
September: CSN appears at the No Nukes concert at Madison Square Garden with Bruce Springsteen, Bonnie Raitt, James Taylor and others.
June: CSN releases “Daylight Again,” which was to have been a Stills-Nash album until record executives insisted that Crosby, who had been arrested twice on drug and gun charges, be part of it. It reaches No. 8.
November: Stills’s “Southern Cross” from “Daylight Again” hits No. 18 on the singles chart.
July: Stills releases his sixth solo album, “Right by You,” featuring such guests as Jimmy Page, Bernie Leadon, Hillman and Nash.
November: CSNY releases “American Dream,” its ninth album, but only its second studio release with the full quartet. Stills writes four songs on the album, three with Young, who refuses to go on the subsequent tour.
September: Stills’s new solo album, “Stills Alone,” features himself alone or with minimal backing on songs that include covers of the Beatles and Bob Dylan.
January: Stills performs at President Bill Clinton’s inauguration concert at the Lincoln Memorial.
October: A 25th-anniversary CSN tour is canceled because Crosby needs a liver transplant.
May: Stills becomes the first person to be inducted twice into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on the same night — for his work in Buffalo Springfield, as well as Crosby, Stills and Nash.
December: Rolling Stone ranks Stills No. 28 on its list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time.
August: Stills releases his solo album “Man Alive!,” featuring Herbie Hancock, Young and Nash.
June: Stills, along with Crosby and Nash, is inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
November: Stills drops to No. 47 on Rolling Stone’s revised list of 100 greatest guitarists of all time.
August: Stills releases the album “Can’t Get Enough” with Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Barry Goldberg as a band called the Rides, which Stills calls “the blues band of my dreams.”
July: On “The Tonight Show,” CSN sings Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy,” with Jimmy Fallon filling in as Young.
October: Asked in concert if the four would ever reunite, Young says, “CSNY will never tour again ever, but I love those guys.”
July: Stills begins a solo tour with a band that includes bassist
Kevin McCormick, keyboardist Todd Caldwell and Mario Calire on drums.
Catlin is a freelance writer.